AI predicts COVID-19 treatments and vaccine will take between 2 to 5 years

Posted on : 2020-04-15 18:56 KST Modified on : 2020-04-15 18:56 KST
Three companies currently in clinical trial stage for vaccine
As of Apr. 8, 185 companies, research institutes, and universities are developing 156 total medications for COVID-19. (provided by Clarivate)
As of Apr. 8, 185 companies, research institutes, and universities are developing 156 total medications for COVID-19. (provided by Clarivate)

It is generally understood that the development of a vaccine for an infectious disease takes 10 or more years. Mark Feinberg, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), said in an interview with the health information website Stat News that the process could take 15 to 20 years.

Meanwhile, companies working to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus are setting a target of having a first vaccine out within the year. Three companies are currently in the clinical trial stage. China’s CanSino Biologics has advanced the fastest to Phase II trials, while Moderna and Inovio in the US are in Phase I trials. Can artificial intelligence (AI) predict when a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments will be available?

Clarivate, an internal academic information analytics company, accounted on Apr. 14 that an examination of the Cortellis AI biotech prediction system concluded that the world will have to wait two years for a treatment and five years for a vaccine. The timeline is shorter than the normal one for vaccine development, but far off from the target the companies have set. Clarivate explained that its projection was based on conditions as of Apr. 8, adding that the vaccine completion timeline could change depending on the progress made at predicted points.

Clarivate’s AI system predicted an availability date of October 2022 for the US company Gilead’s remdesivir, which is considered the leading candidate among treatments. Originally developed as a treatment for the Ebola virus, the drug is in Phase III clinical trial stage as a coronavirus treatment after it was discovered to be effective when used with COVID-19 patients. The AI system predicted an 89% likelihood of success with commercialization of remdesivir.

The “mRNA-1273” vaccine by Moderna Therapeutics, which began Phase I clinical trials in March, was predicted to complete Phase I and enter Phase II in 10 months. This vaccine encourages the formation of antibodies through the injection of messenger RNA (mRNA) with the genetic code for the spike proteins found on the virus’ surface. It’s Moderna’s first vaccine. The AI system projected an availability date of June 2025 for the Modern vaccine, with a 5% likelihood of success.

A structural model of the novel coronavirus (provided by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
A structural model of the novel coronavirus (provided by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
S. Korea: Eight medications under development, still no clinical trials

Clarivate explained that a total of 185 companies, research institutes, and universities were calculated as working on developing 156 total medications for the virus as of Apr. 8. By region, the US accounted for the most with 83, followed by China with 34. In development progress terms, 46% were at the candidate material stage, 42% at the preclinical stage, and 11% at the clinical stage, while 1% had halted their development efforts. This means that 88% are still stuck at the initial stage ahead of clinical trials. In South Korea, eight medications are under development, with two of them at the candidate material research stage and six at the preclinical stage, Clarivate said. No medications had yet reached the clinical trial stage.

Clinical trials are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2020 for a spike protein modulator monoclonal antibody under development by Celltrion, while Immunemed’s chimeric humanized virus suppressing factor received clinical trial approval in February. Enzychem Lifesciences previously announced plans to begin Phase I clinical trials in March for mosedipimod, the medication it is currently developing. Komipharm is working on repurposing the synthetic pharmaceutical KML-001, which it had been developing as a cancer treatment, into a treatment for the coronavirus. Bukwang Pharmaceutical is working on developing a hepatitis B virus treatment into a coronavirus treatment. Genexine and Binex are in the preclinical stage of development after signing a memorandum of understanding on co- development of a coronavirus DNA vaccine. SK Bioscience is conducting animal testing on candidate materials developed for a coronavirus vaccine.

By Kwak No-pil, senior staff writer

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