As COVID-19 Mutates, AI Algorithms Keep Pace

Post Syndicated from Emily Waltz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/ai-predicts-most-potent-covid-19-mutations

As new variants of the coronavirus continue to spring up like wildfires across the planet, researchers have been frantically trying to determine which new strains might outwit our brand new vaccines. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be able to help. In a paper published Friday in the journal Science, researchers at MIT described a machine learning algorithm that can predict which mutations pose the biggest threat to the world’s fledgling immunity.

The tool could be used to quickly narrow down which mutations are most likely to evade the immune systems of people who have been vaccinated or previously infected. Researchers can then test suspected strains in the lab and update vaccines accordingly. 

“This is a real-time companion to vaccine development,” says Bryan Bryson, a biological engineer at MIT and co-author of the paper. “What we can do with our model right now is a lot faster than what you can do in the lab.”