SAS and UNC-Chapel Hill partner to accelerate antiviral drug development

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

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. 

As a global nonprofit, READDI has developed collaborations with industry, government, philanthropic organizations and academic research institutions. Together they use existing platforms to accelerate the development of new antiviral drugs to bring potentially lifesaving drugs to market sooner. 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 107 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools, including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 341,972 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories and 159 countries. More than 185,118 live in North Carolina.

About SAS

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SAS and READDI will use machine learning to prevent infectious disease threats from turning into a pandemic like COVID-19