Baidu’s AI algorithm helps in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Stemirna Therapeutics has leveraged Baidu’s LinearDesign AI algorithm to complete pre-clinical studies on mRNA vaccine sequences for COVID-19.

According to the studies, the LinearDesign-based mRNA sequences significantly outperform benchmark sequences designed by traditional algorithms in terms of stability, protein expression and immunogenicity, all critical attributes of mRNA vaccines. Published on the preprint server arXiv, the results validate the effectiveness of LinearDesign along with its promising value in the field of biopharmaceuticals.

Since 2018, Baidu has been advancing computational biology research underlying LinearDesign, with a major effort devoted to the RNA secondary structure study.

To further validate its effectiveness, Baidu worked with Stemirna Therapeutics, the first innovative company in China focused on the R&D of mRNA vaccines and drugs, to test seven mRNA COVID-19 vaccine sequences designed using LinearDesign.

Results show that the LinearDesign-based mRNA vaccine sequences for SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein outperform the benchmark sequences in stability, protein expression, and immunogenicity.

As to neutralising antibody titer – one of the most critical parameters of vaccine efficacy – the level reported from LinearDesign-based mRNA sequences exceeds that of the benchmark by up to 20 times, potentially leading to higher immune protection. Binding antibody titer and antigen-specific T cell response generated by LinearDesign-based mRNA sequences also showed a 23-fold and six-fold increase compared to those of the benchmark group, respectively.

LinearDesign’s application in mRNA therapeutics extends beyond prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases to cancer, rare diseases, and others. Its early success is a prime example of applying computational tools to drug research and development, reflecting a disruptive force to the existing drug discovery process.