With the launch of ASCEND™ by BenchSci, we wanted to take the time to dive deeper into the story of how it came to be and the instrumental role one of our top customers played to help shape this revolutionary new technology platform for preclinical pharmaceutical research. 

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It all started with a cup of coffee in 2019. Luigi Gentile, our Chief Revenue Officer, and Philip Tagari, Vice President of Research at Amgen, were discussing the technology behind BenchSci’s AI-Assisted Reagent Selection application, an experimental evidence engine that extracts and connects scientific evidence and associated entities from internal and external data sources. This is thanks, in large part, to the power of BenchSci’s proprietary vision ML. This technology reads figures, charts, graphs, and other evidence to uncover hidden data from millions of experiments. 

Mr. Tagari was intrigued. This unbiased approach to assembling scientific evidence at scale was unlike any AI technology he had seen for biological sciences. 

During the conversation, Luigi shared with Mr. Tagari a new idea: what if they could harness this powerful technology to impact more areas of preclinical research? The resulting platform could empower scientists to discover biological connections, dramatically reduce trial-and-error experimentation, and uncover risks early to move the most promising projects forward faster. 

They began imagining how this could transform the way preclinical research is done. A platform equipped with these capabilities would be a breakthrough for preclinical research. Mr. Tagari saw the bigger picture immediately and understood the impact this could have on Amgen’s research. 

Over the next two years, under the code name Project Butterfly,  we worked in stealth mode with Amgen and other leading pharma organizations to understand the most crucial questions that research scientists need to answer in their work to find novel breakthroughs. Not just for one target or disease. But as an enterprise system aiming to support any target, for any disease, at any stage of the preclinical pipeline. 

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To tackle these challenges we began to build ASCEND,  with new applications to surface insights and put them at the fingertips of scientists in an intuitive user interface. Our early adopters provided crucial feedback as we made a significant investment in evolving our technology, enriching our data, and improving our user experience for clients. Most importantly, their willingness to collaborate demonstrated how it could drive enterprise-level progress for R&D programs. 

“BenchSci has developed a technology with the potential to transform the speed and success of preclinical research,” said Mr. Tagari. “With ASCEND, BenchSci has developed a unique approach to extracting and connecting scientific evidence from within and outside Amgen. Based on results across many programs, we are excited to continue to provide ASCEND by BenchSci broadly across the organization to catalyze our research. Amgen’s work with BenchSci has helped place Amgen at the forefront of leveraging AI enterprise-wide as we advance new medicines for patients most in need.”

Today, teams across therapeutic areas at Amgen are using ASCEND to advance their work.

We’re so proud of what we have been able to accomplish by working together. Achieving groundbreaking advancements in science requires bold, ambitious ideas and strong collaboration. Together, we can help realize our collective vision of an industry where novel medicines and, ultimately, hope, can be delivered to patients faster. 

For more information on ASCEND or to book a demo visit our website.

Written By:
Liran Belenzon (he/him)