Monday, July 15, 2024

Resistant Bacteria Targeted in New Eli Lilly and OpenAI Collaboration to Discover Antimicrobials

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Resistant bacteria are the focus of a groundbreaking collaboration between Eli Lilly and Company and OpenAI, which aims to leverage generative artificial intelligence (AI) for the discovery of new antimicrobials. This strategic partnership underscores the pressing need to address the global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the impact is most severe.

Antimicrobial resistance is recognized as a significant global health risk, exacerbated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants. This misuse accelerates the development of drug-resistant pathogens, amplifying the AMR crisis. According to Eli Lilly, AMR presents a substantial risk that demands urgent attention and innovative solutions.

“Generative AI opens a new opportunity to accelerate the discovery of novel antimicrobials and the development of custom, purpose-built technologies in the battle against drug-resistant pathogens,” said Diogo Rau, EVP, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Lilly. “Our collaboration with OpenAI represents a groundbreaking step forward in the fight against the growing but overlooked threat of antimicrobial resistance.”

Lilly and OpenAI Partner to Combat Drug-Resistant Pathogens with Advanced AI

This partnership forms a key part of Lilly’s broader initiative to combat drug-resistant pathogens through its Social Impact Venture Capital Portfolio. In 2020, Lilly allocated $100 million to the AMR Action Fund, aiming to provide patients with access to two to four new antibiotics by 2030 and bolster defenses against multi-drug-resistant pathogens. As part of these efforts, the AMR Action Fund announced new investments in biotech companies targeting various infections in April 2023.

OpenAI’s advanced AI technologies are poised to play a pivotal role in this collaboration, accelerating the discovery and development of new antimicrobials. By harnessing the power of generative AI, the partnership seeks to identify novel antimicrobial agents more efficiently, addressing a critical gap in the current fight against AMR. “Advanced AI has the potential to deliver innovative breakthroughs in pharma,” said Brad Lightcap, Chief Operating Officer at OpenAI. “We’re excited to work with Lilly to find new ways to treat microbial infections and are committed to working together with industry leaders to deliver tangible benefits for patients.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR is a natural evolutionary process in pathogens that can be accelerated by human activities. It leads to increased healthcare costs, longer hospital stays, and reduced productivity among patients and caregivers. The economic burden of AMR is substantial, requiring more expensive treatments and extended medical care. “AMR is a problem for all countries at all income levels. Its spread does not recognize country borders,” reports WHO. Contributing factors include poor access to clean water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices, insufficient infection and disease prevention measures, limited access to quality healthcare, and lack of awareness and knowledge about AMR.

Resistant Bacteria

Battling Resistant Bacteria: Lilly and OpenAI Unite to Tackle AMR with Advanced AI

Efforts to combat AMR require a multifaceted approach, involving improved healthcare practices, better access to vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines, and robust legislation enforcement. In the United States alone, an estimated two million people become antimicrobial-resistant annually, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths. The economic impact includes approximately $20 billion in healthcare costs and an additional $35 billion in other costs, along with over eight million extra days of hospital care.

Preventing AMR involves collaboration between healthcare providers and patients. Key strategies include adhering to prescribed treatments, avoiding the misuse of medications, getting recommended vaccinations, and following healthy lifestyle practices. Public awareness and education play a crucial role in mitigating the spread of drug-resistant infections. The collaboration between Eli Lilly and OpenAI represents a significant milestone in the ongoing battle against AMR. By combining Lilly’s pharmaceutical expertise with OpenAI’s cutting-edge AI technologies, the partnership aims to accelerate the discovery of new antimicrobials, providing hope for more effective treatments and better healthcare outcomes worldwide.

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In summary, the agreement between Eli Lilly and OpenAI is a proactive response to the urgent need for new antimicrobial agents to combat drug-resistant bacteria. Through the innovative use of generative AI, this partnership has the potential to make substantial contributions to global health, particularly in addressing the challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance.


Resource: World Health Organizaiton, June 26, 2024

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