The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and AI start-up BenevolentAI have announced a potentially major breakthrough in the treatment of motor neuron disease, thanks to artificial intelligence.
The groundbreaking development for the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), came about as scientists from SITraN assessed the efficacy of a drug candidate proposed by BenevolentAI’s AI technology.
The scientists, led by Dr. Richard Mead and Dr. Laura Ferraiuolo, found there are significant and reproducible indications that the drug prevents the death of motor neurones in patient cell models, and delayed the onset of the disease in the gold standard model of ALS.
SITraN is now moving to the next phase of its research, advancing the existing study and assessing the suitability and potential for clinical development. It expects to publish an abstract at the Motor Neurone Disease Association 28th International Symposium in Boston in December.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis and ultimately, respiratory failure. Life expectancy following diagnosis is two to five years. There are currently only two FDA approved drugs available to patients: Riluzole, approved in 1995, and Edaravone, approved only a few weeks ago.
BenevolentAI came to SITraN with some newly identified compounds discovered by its technology, two of which were new to the field and, following this research, are now looking very promising.
“This is an exciting development in our research for a treatment for ALS,” said Dr. Mead. “Our plan now is to conduct further detailed testing and continue to quickly progress towards a potential treatment for ALS.”
Ken Mulvany, founder and chairman at BenevolentAI, added: “We understand from SITraN their research demonstrates that the hypothesis and drug candidate that our technology identified has delayed the onset of cell death in the gold standard model of ALS.
“We are incredibly encouraged by these findings. We very much look forward to the results of SITraN’s further studies and are hopeful for the positive impact that this drug could have for people living with ALS.”