Science 2 min read

Scientists use AI to Create "Turbo-charged" Flu Vaccine

Sherry Yates Young /

Sherry Yates Young /

Researchers at Flinders University in Australia have developed a flu vaccine that could stimulate the human immune system to produce more antibodies to fight the flu virus.

The new “turbo-charged” vaccine was said to be designed using an artificial intelligence system the researchers developed. Prof. Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of medicine at Flinders and the lead researchers of the study, said:

“We essentially showed all of that to the AI program called Sam and then Sam came up with its own suggestion of what might be an effective adjuvant, which we then took and tested, and sure enough, it worked.”

Prof. Petrovsky explained in an interview that they trained Sam to learn and create new drugs. The AI system allegedly experimented not just with existing drugs that are known to work, but with those that had failed as well.

Numerous experiments led to the development of one drug that the researchers claimed would work in tandem with current flu vaccines and make them more useful.

Turbo-Charged Flu Vaccine

According to Prof. Petrovsky, their artificial intelligence program had expedited the discovery of an effective vaccine. Not only that, but it also cut the cost and allowed a more efficient drug to be developed. He added:

“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.”

It took the Australian researchers just two years to develop the turbo-charged flu vaccine with the help of Sam and another program that can create trillions of imaginary compounds.

From a long list of drugs, the team shortlisted what they believe as the ten most effective.

“So rather than screening millions of compounds we only worked with a handful. It took just a few weeks to synthesize them and then we tested them on human blood. The compounds then went through animal testing and are now in humans.”

The team’s new flu vaccine is already scheduled for clinical trials in the United States soon. Prof. Petrovsky noted that their research was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases because it believes in their “revolutionary technology.”

Read More: World’s First Universal Flu Vaccine Enters Clinical Trials

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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