A team at South Australia has developed a new vaccine believed to be the first human drug in the world to be completely designed by artificial intelligence (AI).
Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky who led the development told its name is derived from what it was tasked to do: search the universe for all conceivable compounds to find a good human drug (also called a ligand).
We developed another program, called the synthetic chemist which generated trillions of different chemical compounds that we then fed to SAM so that it could sift through all of these to find candidates that it thought might be good human immune drugs.
The team then took the top candidates SAM identified, synthesised them in a lab and tested them on human blood cells to see if they would work.
“This confirmed that SAM not only had the ability to identify good drugs but in fact had come up with better human immune drugs than currently exist,” Nikolai said.
“So we then took these drugs created by SAM into development with animal testing to confirm their ability to boost influenza vaccine effectiveness.”
Petrovsky hopes this vaccine will prove to be more effective than the existing vaccines and will go on to complement or replace them as the standard seasonal flu shot.
“If this is the case then the same technology we are using for flu vaccines can be applied to improve or develop many other vaccines,” he added
It’s not the first time that Flinders University has had a breakthrough in the vaccine department. In 2009, the team was the first to develop a swine flu vaccine.