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BenevolentAI Buys Into Huge Research Lab to Expand Drug Discovery Operation


The leading artificial intelligence firm will have more room to work with.

Aerial photo of Babraham Research Campus courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Lenov.

One of the world’s largest medical AI firms is expanding its research space (and capabilities) with the purchase of a lab in a large clinical campus in Cambridge, UK.

Five years old and already worth over $1.5 billion, London-based BenevolentAI announced this week that it will a drug discovery lab at the sprawling Babraham Research Campus. That facility’s existing staff will integrate with BenevelontAI’s team. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“This enables us to discover new medicines like no other organization and drive cures for diseases that were previously untreatable.” BenevolentAI founder Ken Mulvany said in a statement. “The acquisition has expanded our scale and capability overnight and created something that previously did not exist - an AI company truly integrated across every stage of the drug development process."

The company’s proprietary AI combs through massive piles of data, including clinical trials and medical databases, to extract insights for drug discovery. According to the statement, its BenevolentBio drug discovery subsidiary has created “the world's richest bioscience knowledge graph,” with well over a billion mapped relationships pertinent to drug discovery.

Those tools are currently being used to develop numerous therapies, including an ALS treatment proposed in 2017 that is currently in Phase 2b testing. There’s also a pair of Alzheimer’s treatments in development as part of a massive deal with an unnamed pharma maker. In total, the company says it has 19 potential therapies in its pipeline.

"We have built an artificial intelligence technology that can read and understand the world's biomedical information, then perform complex reasoning, to tell us things about disease never understood before,” Mulvaney said.

The 200,000-square foot Babraham Research Campus is itself expanding. In November, US-based BioMed Realty pledged millions to construct 2 additional buildings, which would add an additional 100,000 square feet of lab space.

Edit: This story has been updated to reflect that BenevolentAI has purchased a facility at the Babraham Research Campus, rather than the entire campus.

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