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Wipro’s AI platform to improve vaccine safety

Wipro is partnering a stem cell technology firm on the use of its Holmes artificial intelligence platform to help researchers ascertain the safety and potency of vaccines

Wipro has teamed up with stem cell technology firm Transcell Oncologics on the use of its Holmes artificial intelligence (AI) platform to improve vaccine safety.

Currently, vaccine safety assessment often involves testing on animals to measure adverse impacts. By applying AI to the vaccine development process, whether it is repurposing drugs or developing messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based vaccines, Wipro said Holmes is capable of predicting adverse neurovirulent impacts resulting from vaccinations.

The platform can also be integrated into existing workflows, including quality control tests in vaccine production, batch-wise release and other safety evaluation assays, enabling researchers to ascertain the safety and potency of vaccines.

Wipro said Holmes was the first in a series of offerings that the partnership will offer to determine the safety and efficacy of a wide range of products from vaccines to prescription medications, cosmetics and more.

“Enhancing neurovirulence safety assessment through augmented intelligence is a huge step forward in vaccine research and development,” said Harmeet Chauhan, Wipro’s global head for engineering and research and development.

“This innovative technology allows life science companies and vaccine manufacturers to develop, trial and release safer and more effective vaccines for people around the world. Our partnership with Transcell Oncologics will bring the best of AI and stem cell technology to researchers, medical professionals and, ultimately, patients through safe, accelerated vaccination programmes,” he added.

Transcell CEO Subhadra Dravida said the partnership would bring new and advanced insights from the use of stem cells in an in-vitro setting and will lead to “new medical treatments and accelerate innovation and vaccine availability that is vital to saving lives”.

According to a 2020 paper by a team of US-based researchers, machine learning models, trained on specific biomolecules, have offered inexpensive and rapid implementation methods for the discovery of effective viral therapies.

“Given a target biomolecule, these models are capable of predicting inhibitor candidates in a structural-based manner. If enough data is presented to a model, it can aid the search for a drug or vaccine candidate by identifying patterns within the data,” they added.

In the case of Covid-19 drug and vaccine development using AI, the researchers noted that employing neural networks and supervised learning methods had proven to be a game-changer, though a large training dataset and knowledge of the right biotargets such as viral spike proteins are needed.

Amid the pandemic, technology suppliers have been stepping up to make their products available to individuals, businesses, researchers and medical workers tide over this difficult period.

Alibaba’s Damo research academy, for example, has made its genome sequencing algorithm available to medical institutions that are conducting coronavirus analytics, including viral genetic data screening, evolutionary analysis, protein structure analysis and diagnostic reporting.

The algorithm can reportedly complete the diagnosis of new coronavirus within 14 hours, which is five times faster than other sequencing solutions in China.

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