Recently, a team at Flinder University in southern Australia has successfully developed a vaccine designed entirely with artificial intelligence (AI).
In the past, we had drugs designed with computer software. But this new vaccine has gone a step further, it was created completely independently by SAM (Search Algorithm for Ligands) – the AI program means "tMathematical search for ligands".
Professor Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinder University, the head of the study, explains: The task that SAM is assigned is to screen a universe containing trillions of compounds, finding potential compounds that can become drugs for human.
Artificial intelligence helps scientists develop the world's first flu vaccine
"We have to teach an AI program with a curriculum that includes a set of compounds that are known to activate the human immune system, and another set of compounds that don't do it. The job of the AI then is to find out which drugs will work, which drugs will work"Professor Petrovsky said.
"After that, we continued to develop another program, called a synthetic chemist. This program will create trillions of different chemical compounds, tasked with SAM screening to find all the brightest candidates that this artificial intelligence thinks it could become an immune drug for human".
In the next step, the researchers collected the top candidates that SAM identified, synthesized them in the laboratory, then tested the real compound on human blood cells to see if the drug worked well. is not.
If the vaccine works, it continues to be tested in animals. Specifically, vaccines are used to prevent influenza viruses.
"The results confirm that SAM is not only able to identify good drugs, but in fact has found better immune drugs for humans, compared with current drugs."Professor Petrovsky said.
The Flinder University study received funding from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – which has now begun a 12-month clinical trial. across the United States.
"From animal tests, we know that the vaccine is capable of protecting people from the flu virus, which is more effective than existing vaccines. Now we just need to confirm this on people"Professor Petrovsky said.
He adds that his artificial intelligence is able to shorten the process of discovery and development of conventional drugs for decades and save hundreds of millions of dollars.
AI will become a powerful assistant to develop and update seasonal flu vaccines
New vaccines appear at a time when the flu cases reported in Ausatralia are increasing. Before June 2019, 228 people died of flu-related complications, including 57 in New South Wales and 48 in Victoria.
It is worth mentioning that because the flu virus changes seasonally, even the latest human vaccines sometimes do not have a preventative effect. We must update the flu vaccines continuously, and here, artificial intelligence is a great assistant.
"It's great to see a promising vaccine developed by us to the first human trials", Associate Professor Dimitar Sajkov said."The developed vaccine at Flinder has now reached the world stage. "
"Since the beginning of 2019, there have been more than 96,000 confirmed cases across Australia. The number in Western Australia has nearly doubled to 10 thousand, similar to the number of deaths, there have been 57 schools. deaths are recorded in New South Wales, 44 in South Australia and nearly 40 in Queensland ".
Professor Petrovsky hopes the new vaccine that his group and SAM develop will prove to be more effective than the existing vaccines. AI is clearly a powerful assistant for researchers in the problem to constantly refine seasonal flu vaccines.
"If this case is successful, the technology we are using to develop flu vaccine can be applied, improved or developed many other vaccines."he added
This is not the first time Flinder University marks a breakthrough in the field of vaccine research. In 2009, Professor Petrovsky's team was also the first to successfully develop the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.