Health and Medicine

SAS and Carolina partner to accelerate antiviral drug development

SAS joins Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative to advance drug discovery with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's READDI initiative partners with software innovator SAS on drug develop to fight future pandemics.

SAS, a leader in analytics and software services, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are teaming up to transform the drug development process to prevent infectious disease threats from turning into a pandemic like COVID-19.

The partnership is focused on the work of the University’s Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative (READDI) which is developing broad-spectrum antiviral drugs to have on the shelf to prevent future pandemics

To advance their work, SAS research and development teams are applying advanced machine learning techniques to integrate multiple biological data sets from the deep lung environment of severely ill COVID-19 patients. These analyses will be used by Carolina researchers to identify targets for new COVID-19 antiviral drugs.

“SAS strives to create a healthier world through analytics,” said SAS Chief Executive Officer Jim Goodnight. “SAS has been the gold standard for clinical trial submission for decades, providing the data analysis for medicines that have helped countless patients. We look forward to working with READDI to deploy our most advanced technologies to accelerate drug discovery and support global health efforts to get ahead of the next pandemic.”

While the initial focus of the joint team is on addressing new treatments for COVID-19, READDI and SAS will continue to work together to meaningfully accelerate drug discovery for other antiviral drugs.

“What COVID-19 taught us is the importance of being ready, not reactive,” said John Bamforth, Director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill. “We want to make sure that during the next pandemic we are prepared with approved drugs and therapeutics to allow the public health system to respond effectively.”

READDI was founded by the School of Pharmacy, UNC School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health School.

As a global nonprofit, READDI has developed collaborations with industry, government, philanthropic organizations and academic research institutions. Together they use existing platforms to bring potentially life-saving drugs to market sooner.