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Home » Future of Immunization & Vaccines » Harnessing the power of AI to develop next-generation vaccines

Birgitte Rønø, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer, Evaxion Biotech

A biotech company is doing its part to develop superior target discovery platforms in its endeavour to create efficacious vaccines, which can help solve global health issues.

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables the development of precise treatments targeting health concerns. Founded in 2008, the clinical-stage biotech Evaxion aims to lead the exploration of AI to design new, superior vaccines and immunotherapies.

Using AI to create targeted vaccines 

The biotech has four key validated AI platforms: EDEN, RAVEN, PIONEER and ObsERV. These platforms enable the identification of antigens for use in next-generation vaccines.

With AI, the biotech company can find targets more quickly than current approaches. It can also find new targets that cannot be found in other ways. The technologies are based on a machine-learning group of AI models trained on Evaxion’s unique datasets. The models identify therapeutically relevant targets based on predictions as to how they will mount an immune response.

Prophylactic infectious disease vaccines

The EDEN platform excels at identifying vaccine targets that can trigger a robust immune response, protecting against bacterial infections. It does this by recognizing traits shared by highly protective vaccine candidates. Meanwhile, the RAVEN platform aims to identify vaccine targets against any existing, emerging and mutating viruses.

Therapeutic cancer vaccines

Currently, the majority of cancer treatments are based on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. PIONEER is used to identify patient-specific tumour neoantigens efficiently for personalised oncology immunotherapies. These tumour-specific epitopes are selected to trigger a strong T-cell response, training the patient’s immune system to target and kill tumour cells with limited or no impact on healthy cells.

New frontiers in cancer vaccines

Not all cancer patients will benefit from personalized neoantigen immunotherapy. Recent findings identify endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) as a potential additional source of cancer antigens to be used in personalized cancer immunotherapies, leading to the development of the cancer AI platform ObsERV. It enables a new treatment paradigm in cancer, broadening the application of personalized cancer immunotherapy to support more patients in need, and it is unique to Evaxion. This platform exemplifies the ongoing, iterative biology driven AI platform development, as evidenced by the pipeline of differentiated vaccines for infectious disease and cancer.

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