Researchers from Flinders University have used an artificial intelligence (AI) program, known as SAM, to develop a new powerful flu vaccine making it the first human drug completely designed by AI. The new vaccine contains an extra component comprised of a sugar molecule with a very short piece of DNA. This DNA augmented sugar was discovered not by human design, but by SAM, and helps to double the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The team believes this could be the beginning of a new age in drug discovery and design, that includes AI. Because AI programs like SAM can be set to run 24/7 they have great potential in designing new drugs much faster compared to conventional methods. In addition, AI programs like SAM can be trained to learn what attributes of a molecule make a successful drug. “The first component took 30 years to develop. The second component, with the artificial intelligence, basically took about six months,” says Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, lead researcher for the development of this new flu vaccine. The vaccine is now headed to the U.S. to begin a clinical trial that is expected to take 12 months. Professor Petrovsky says there is also great potential to apply this technology to almost any vaccine, including vaccines for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The flu virus is a major health concern around the globe. A new vaccine is created each year to combat four strains of the virus which are selected by the World Health Organization. These four strains are selected according to which ones have been prevalent in the previous northern and southern hemisphere flu seasons. There is a continuous need to develop new vaccines each year to combat these shifting strains, especially for the elderly population or patients with impaired health who may experience severe complications.
Source: The Lead
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