Health July 9, 2019
A.I. technology creates “turbo-charged” flu vaccine

By News - World Healthcare Journal

Scientists in Australia have developed a new vaccine using A.I, in what is being described as a world first.

A seasonal flu vaccine, produced using an advanced A.I program pioneered by researchers at Flinders University, will soon be trialled in the U.S. The “turbo-charged” vaccine is more powerful than conventional flu vaccines, as it triggers a stronger immune response to fight the flu virus – providing a higher level of protection to recipients.

The new vaccine utilizes highly effective adjuvants, which boost the body's immune system in multiple ways. Adjuvants instruct the body to produce more antibodies, producing a quicker and more effective immune response. It also extends the presence of the flu antigen in the system for a longer period, allowing the body time to develop a stronger immune response.

Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the trial itself is expected to run for approximately 12 months and is aiming to recruit 240 volunteers to test the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine.

Whilst A.I has been used to aid the development of vaccines before, this is believed to be the only vaccine to be fully developed by A.I alone. The program created by the researchers, known as Search Algorithm for Ligands (SAM), was trained to seek out an effective adjuvant to combine with the current flu vaccine.

By first teaching the program how to spot vaccines that work against the flu virus, and ones that do not, the A.I then screened millions of different vaccine compounds with different adjuvants and came up with a list of what it predicted would be the most effective.

The A.I not only succeeded in finding an effective adjuvant but also vastly improved the time taken to develop the vaccine - and cut the cost of the research effort by a huge margin.

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, Team Leader of the project, and Director of Vaxine told the Telegraph how the vaccine managed to improve the research process significantly:

“Normally, big companies like GSK will screen millions of compounds, with thousands of people working week in week out on this for about five years. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with one lead,”

This recent success comes when Australia is enduring one of its worst flu seasons on record. 228 people are now confirmed dead from the virus so far in 2019, and more than 100,000 people have been diagnosed, despite more than 13 million flu vaccines being distributed nationwide. Using SAM to develop new vaccines for the flu could be a vital step forward in protecting populations across the world from the illness.

Associate Professor Dimitar Sajkov, holds high hopes for SAM and the development of new vaccines through A.I.

"It is tremendous to see such a promising vaccine that we developed with the very first human trials being done at Flinders, progressing onto the world stage."


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