DNDi and BenevolentAI to tackle dengue in drug discovery project  

Artificial intelligence (AI) company BenevolentAI and not-for-profit R&D organisation Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi) have launched a joint research project to tackle dengue, one of the world’s most prevalent infectious diseases. 

Dengue represents one of the top 10 threats to global public health worldwide. Despite an estimated 390 million infections each year in over 100 countries, no specific treatment remains available. The World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that insect-borne pathogens, such as dengue, could lead to the next pandemic. 

The project will use BenevolentAI’s capabilities in drug discovery to highlight potential biological targets (proteins that can be targeted by a potential drug) and drug repurposing candidates that could be effective to prevent progression to severe dengue. 

The project will combine the Benevolent’s AI Platform – Benevolent Platform – with DNDi’s expertise and global network of partners in dengue in an effort to help researchers uncover insights they would not have been able to find using human reasoning alone. Data such as scientific literature, patents, genetics, chemistry, clinical trial data will be used alongside AI tools to interrogate the underlying mechanisms involved in dengue, better frame hypotheses and rapidly identify targets or therapies that could be repurposed to prevent progression to severe dengue.  

The most promising drug candidates identified in the joint research project will later be tested in clinical trials in collaboration with dengue-endemic country partners. 

Official comments 

“There is no effective treatment for dengue and millions of patients across the globe urgently need safe, effective, affordable and accessible treatment options. Being able to apply cutting edge AI technology in this partnership with BenevolentAI to help neglected patients opens an exciting new opportunity to rapidly identify promising drug candidates and later test them in clinical trials,” said Dr Charles Mowbray, Discovery Director at DNDi.”  

“With dengue spreading at a rapid pace, and climate change predicted to further intensify the impact and spread of the disease, it is all the more critical to accelerate research into new treatment options,” Anne Phelan, Chief Scientific Officer at BenevolentAI, commented. “The global scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and BenevolentAI’s Covid-19 research, provided a clear example of how AI can help us respond to pressing global health challenges. BenevolentAI’s vast integrated knowledge graph coupled with our AI tools enable us to build a comprehensive representation of disease biology and accelerate the discovery of new treatments. Our partnership with the DNDi builds on this approach, with a goal to address urgent patient needs and help relieve pressure on overburdened health systems.” 

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