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Artificial Intelligence & Vaccines: Paradigm Shift in Immunology

Friday, July 22nd, 2022 -- With the ever-evolving technology, there are various developments that are creating paradigm shifts in various healthcare fields like immunology.

Vaccines via Artificial Intelligence [Source: UniversalLifeTools]

The concept of introducing antibodies in a person’s body to form a resistance against that antigen via its weakened forms was first discovered by Edward Jenner with the smallpox vaccine. Gradually, several techniques have been created to improve and make the discovery of vaccines even more efficient.

Internal Composition of Vaccines & Inhibitions of Viruses in the Body

Usually, vaccines consist of specific parts of dead viruses, like the proteins of Hepatitis B, but many immunologists predict that in future, they will be composed of protein fragments, which will elicit a better immune response.

So, how can the virus be prevented from spreading throughout the body with the help of the induced antibodies? One way is through the protein produced by our B lymphocytes. Viruses are situated on the borderline of living and non-living organisms. Due to this property, they tend to mutate easily, and they mark each cell of the body with a particular protein fragment that sends a response to T-cells to attack the infection introduced to the cell. With the help of this theory, scientists have been able to create machine learning models that can predict the type of viral fragment and which part of the virus is immunogenic.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence is the skill possessed by machines or simple applications that can mimic the disposition of the human mind to carry out actions involving decision-making, prediction based on analysis, sentiment analysis, cognitive ability, etc. It has made time-consuming tasks efficient and convenient.

Daily life instances include:

  1. Voice Assistants like Alexa, Google Duplex, Siri and Cortana.

  2. Chatbots on Customer Service Websites

  3. A.I. applications in hospitals that automatically maintain patient information, record and aid in diagnostics.

How does a Machine Learning Model Work?

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence in which the model analyzes patterns in large datasets to create an accurate prediction. In the case of this experiment, it can observe minute patterns that can be difficult for immunologists to explore. Although researchers can identify millions of fragments that are visible to T-lymphocytes like in a simple virus such as influenza, what would happen in a situation of a novel virus like the Sars-CoV-2 (Covid-19). This is where machine learning models come in to help analyze the datasets of the protein fragment formation on the cell from the Covid-19 virus.

The Process of Making the Covid-19 Vaccine With Machine Learning

With the inception of the pandemic, microbiologists and immunologists were on the run to find the immunological components of the pathogen with the help of machine learning models so they could finalize good vaccine options. Finally, the model caught a minute observation of spike proteins that ensured the entry of the virus into lung cells; this was responsible for creating pulmonary issues. This spike protein produced a fragment called SYGFQPTNGVGYQPY, which could be easily dealt with by the antibodies produced by the T-cells.

The paradigm shift machine learning models have created in domains of drug discovery or vaccines, is bringing much more efficient outcomes and results in the healthcare facilities. The key factor the performance of these models depends on is the training dataset it receives which should always be authentic, reliable to yield the latest types of Covid vaccines.



Fast E, Chen B (2020) Can artificial intelligence help US design vaccines? In: Brookings. Accessed 22 Jul 2022

Greig J (2021) How AI is being used for COVID-19 vaccine creation and distribution. In: TechRepublic. Accessed 22 Jul 2022



Helpful Definitions

  • Antibodies: specialized y-shaped proteins produced by the immune system that recognize and bind to foreign invaders (antigens) like bacteria and viruses in order to eliminate them.

  • B lymphoctyes (B cells): a group of white blood cells that matures in the bone marrow and is responsible for making antibodies. B cells are at the center of the adaptive humoral immune response.

  • T lymphoctyes (T cells): a group of white blood cells that matures in the thymus and is responsible for either stimulating the B cells to produce antibodies or assist in the development of killer T cells, which directly eliminate the infected cells. T cells are at the center of the adaptive cell-mediated immune response.

  • Pathogen: a disease-causing entity.

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