Artificial intelligence identifies existing drugs that may reduce sight loss from macular degeneration

Press Release | 16/04/2019

The initial results from an artificial intelligence project show a number of existing drugs have the potential to reduce sight loss from age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of sight loss.


Action Against AMD, a research collaboration formed by four UK sight loss charities (Blind Veterans UK, Fight for Sight, the Macular Society and Scottish War Blinded), partnered with artificial intelligence company BenevolentAI  to carry out the research.


BenevolentAI used its ‘Benevolent Platform’ to comprehensively review and understand the millions of scientific papers, clinical trials information, and additional datasets relating to age-related macular degeneration with a view to identifying potential gene targets and treatments.


The research identified seven existing drugs - either already in development or being used to treat other conditions - that have the potential to be repurposed to treat macular degeneration. In addition the analysis identified new gene targets for investigation.


Action Against AMD will now be taking the insight from the project to identify which drugs and gene targets are a priority for further investigation.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss and can result in complete loss of central vision, with an estimated prevalence of 196 million people worldwide.  There are currently no approved treatments for the 95% of patients with early and ‘dry AMD’, although there are treatments for the 5% of patients with ‘wet AMD’ caused by new blood vessel growth - if caught early enough.


Dr Wen Hwa Lee, Chief Executive for Action Against AMD said: ‘It’s really promising that we have identified current drugs that may have a positive effect on macular degeneration. Our next step will be to confirm which of these drugs have the potential to slow progression of the disease and reduce sight loss for people with this condition.”


Dr Jackie Hunter, Board Director at BenevolentAI commented: “It has been a very productive partnership with Action Against AMD and we are delighted to have contributed some promising new research in age-related macular degeneration. I very much look forward to seeing the results of this research as it is developed further by Action Against AMD”.


The Macular Society, one of the four founders of Action Against AMD, through their donors the Clothworkers’ Foundation and another anonymous donor, helped to fund the collaboration with BenevolentAI.



For more information or interviews contact Sarah Campion, Direct line: 020 7264 3910; Mobile: 07921 828662; E-mail:


About Action Against AMD (

Action Against AMD is a research collaboration formed by four UK sight loss charities that are partnering to drive forward research into early and intermediate AMD. The partners are Blind Veterans UK, Fight for Sight, the Macular Society and Scottish War Blinded. AMD affects the macula, the central and most sensitive area of the retina, damaging the central area of vision. People with advanced AMD cannot drive, read or recognise faces. AMD is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK with over 680,000 people with serious sight loss from Late stage AMD and over 8 million with early AMD (source: GlobalData).


About BenevolentAI (

BenevolentAI, founded in 2013, is an AI company developing and applying advanced technologies to accelerate the journey from data to medicine.  IP associated with these discoveries has been gifted to Action Against AMD by BenevolentAI as the company is focussing its activities on its existing drug research and development programmes in areas such as ALS, Parkinson’s, inflammatory diseases and senescence.


The company combines the power of computational medicine and advanced AI with the principles of open systems and cloud computing to transform the way drugs are designed, developed, tested and brought to market.  The company has developed the ‘Benevolent Platform’, the world’s only end-to-end computational and experimental platform for drug discovery that’s spans data ingestion to clinical development


BenevolentAI is HQ’d in London with a research facility in Cambridge (UK) and further offices in New York and Belgium. BenevolentAI has active R&D drug programmes from discovery to Phase IIb in disease areas such as ALS, Parkinson’s, Ulcerative Colitis and Sarcopenia.