Bayer in deal to search U.K. NHS data for heart drug clues

Bayer AG has entered a two-year agreement to use artificial intelligence to hunt for heart treatments using Sensyne Health’s trove of U.K. health records.

Sensyne’s partners—a group of National Health Service trusts—will receive 4 percent of all proceeds from the 5 million pound ($5.6 million) deal, the Oxford, England-based company said in a statement.

Sensyne is collaborating with NHS divisions to put patient information into a database that companies and entrepreneurs can analyze to develop new products and treatment approaches that will benefit the agency’s patients. The Bayer deal, focused on cardiovascular disease, is the first announced so far by the fledgling data company since it listed shares about a year ago.

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The logo of Bayer AG is seen at the entrance of the company's headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. Photographer: Wolfgang von Brauchitsch/Bloomberg News

“We set out expectations at our IPO to do a big deal within 24 months, and it’s nice to deliver it 12 months early,” Sensyne Chief Executive Officer Paul Drayson says. The company will continue to look for new partners, he adds.

Heart disease, one of the world’s leading killers, has been identified as an area of priority research, according to Drayson, the former U.K. science minister who founded Sensyne. It accounts for one in four premature deaths in the country, according to the NHS.

Bayer’s scientists won’t see the NHS data itself. Sensyne’s system protects patient privacy by using records stripped of identifying information, and provides only the analyses to customers.

So far, Sensyne has signed up six of the NHS’s 150 hospital divisions, known as trusts, representing about 3 million patients, with each trust receiving Sensyne shares worth about $3 million.