Posted on May 25, 2017 by staff

AI could be key to motor neurone disease breakthrough


Ground-breaking artificial intelligence could hold the key to a breakthrough in the treatment of motor neurone disease.

One of the world’s leading centres Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), part of the University of Sheffield, announced research into a drug candidate discovered by British AI firm BenevolentAI has delivered positive results.

This development for the disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), came about as scientists proved a drug can prevent the death of motor neurones in patient cell models.

It also delayed the onset of the disease in the gold standard model of ALS.

The study, led by Dr Richard Mead and Dr Laura Ferraiuolo at SITraN, found significant and reproducible indications the drug prevents the death of motor neurones in patient cell models.

Dr Mead said: “This is an exciting development in our research for a treatment for ALS.

“BenevolentAI came to us with some newly identified compounds discovered by their technology – two of which were new to us in the field and, following this research, are now looking very promising.

“Our plan now is to conduct further detailed testing and continue to quickly progress towards a potential treatment for ALS.”

SITraN are now moving to the next phase of research, advancing the existing study and assessing the suitability and potential for clinical development.

The organisation expects to publish an abstract at the Motor Neurone Disease Association 28th International Symposium in Boston in December 2017.

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.

Ken Mulvany, founder and chairman of 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.”