Published: 28 March 2018

  • Charities awarded full research support from leading UK AI unicorn, BenevolentAI
  • World’s richest healthcare knowledge graph to form foundation of research project
  • Partnership aims to find new treatments that could reach patients rapidly

A collaboration between Parkinson’s UK and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) to identify new treatments for Parkinson’s has been awarded the inaugural BenevolentAI Award. Presented through a competition run with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the award offers a selected charity AI-driven R&D support from BenevolentAI, one of Europe’s largest private AI companies.

Applicants were asked to submit proposals which demonstrated how BenevolentAI’s technology could solve specific research challenges medical charities face. Parkinson’s UK, together with CPT will take advantage of BenevolentAI’s world leading healthcare knowledge graph, containing over 1.3 billion meaningful bioscience relationships, to conduct potentially breakthrough research into treating Parkinson’s. Set to become an annual occurrence, the BenevolentAI Award aims to support leading medical charities by offering the chance for breakthrough discoveries using advanced artificial intelligence.

Parkinson’s UK and CPT will leverage the BenevolentAI platform’s capabilities to reason, deduce and suggest entirely new treatments. Ambitious targets have been set by Parkinson’s UK and CPT with the aim of identifying at least three currently available medicines that can be repurposed to address Parkinson’s and two brand-new ways to treat the disease (novel drug targets). If successful, it would mark a significant advance in the number of options and targets available for further investigation.

The award application and any ongoing R&D work, were supported by Ian Douglas from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who brings extensive experience in the use of linked databases and the identification of drugs for repurposing. Michael Johnson of Imperial College London will also provide support and guidance on gene network analysis, a technique which he has previously harnessed to identify repurposed drugs or novel drug targets for the novel treatment of refractory epilepsy.

Dr. Jackie Hunter, CEO BenevolentBio commented: “If we are going to be able to make a breakthrough in Parkinson’s we’re going to need to take a different approach. Through this collaboration, we’re doing that by combining the charities’ extensive knowledge of the disease and our world leading knowledge graph platform. We’re extremely excited to see if over the next 12 months we’re able to identify new treatments that could reach patients rapidly.”

2017 marked 200 years since Dr James Parkinson first described Parkinson’s, a progressive degenerative brain disorder that affects 145,000 people in the UK, a figure that is predicated to double over the next 50 years as life expectancy increases. There is still no cure.

Professor David Dexter, Deputy Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, added: We’re thrilled that our application was successful and are excited to see what this partnership will produce. People with Parkinson’s have waited too long for better treatments and repurposing existing drugs holds huge potential to accelerate our work towards a time when no one fears Parkinson’s.”

Dr. Richard Wyse, Director of Research and Development at The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, added: “It is wonderful to have the opportunity to work with the skilled team at BenevolentAI and Parkinson’s UK to identify potential new treatments for Parkinson’s.  At CPT we are dedicated to bringing new disease modifying treatments – including known drugs as well as novel compounds – into clinical trials as we leave no stone unturned in our hunt to find ways to slow, stop and reverse Parkinson’s.  By harnessing the phenomenal technology capabilities at BenevolentAI we and Parkinson’s UK have the opportunity to widen our search for better therapeutics, verify our findings, and initiate fast-track development.”



Press: [email protected]0207 632 3880   

Corporate Affairs: James Chandler, VP, Corporate Affairs, BenevolentAI; [email protected]                                    


About BenevolentAI (

BenevolentAI is the global leader in the development and application of AI for scientific innovation.  It is the largest private AI company in Europe and one of the world’s top five private AI companies. 

The company has built a proprietary AI technology platform that ingests and processes knowledge from any source of vast complex scientific data and then analyses, reasons and extracts knowledge.  The technology enables BenevolentAI to generate new scientific insights very quickly at a massive scale.

In the first instance BenevolentAI has applied its technology to accelerate the discovery of new medicines creating the world’s richest bioscience knowledge graph containing well over 1bn meaningful relationships specific to drug discovery.  The technology enables a completely unique understanding of disease and can deliver significantly higher success rates in discovering new medicines and potential cures for disease.   

The company has made significant progress in accelerating drug development, including the initiation of 19 validated drug research programmes, including a breakthrough in ALS in 2017, where positive results for its AI derived invention was announced   BenevolentAI has entered into significant license agreements with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and began its first Phase IIb clinical study in 2017. 

Whilst the pharmaceutical sector is an area of tremendous opportunity, there is the also the opportunity to apply its technology to other science-based industries underpinning many of the world’s most valuable markets such as advanced materials, agriculture, nutraceuticals and animal health. Initially BenevolentAI will start its exploration into other scientific verticals by looking at how its technology can be applied to the multi-billion-dollar energy storage market.

Further information on the BenevolentAI Awards can be read here.

About Parkinson’s UK (

Every hour, two people are told they have Parkinson's. It affects 145,000 people in the UK – which is around one in 350 of the population. Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity. Parkinson’s UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

About Cure Parkinson’s Trust (

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) is a charity that solely funds both pre-clinical and clinical research to slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s.

About the AMRC (

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has been the national membership organisation for the health and medical research charity sector for the last 30 years, influencing the policy and research environments by harnessing the collective strengths of our members, to demonstrate the sector’s positive impact on health and wellbeing.

AMRC has 140 members which include the largest health and medical charities in the UK: the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Wellcome Trust. All members, large and small, work to the same high standards ensuring that every pound they spend on research is invested in lifesaving research of the very highest quality.