Moderna partners with IBM to explore quantum computing and generative AI

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Moderna partners with IBM to explore quantum computing and generative AI

Related tags Moderna AI Artificial intelligence mRNA quantum computing Drug discovery machine learning

Moderna will explore next generation technologies - including quantum computing and artificial intelligence - to advance and accelerate mRNA research via a new partnership with IBM.

Having pledged that investments in digital and new tech will be an integral part of its future, Moderna’s partnership with IBM will allow the mRNA pioneer to use an AI foundation model to help it understand the characteristics of potential mRNA medicines.

The companies will also explore how quantum approaches can help with scientific challenges.

"Since our inception, we have always strived to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, leveraging innovations to deliver the greatest possible impact to people through mRNA medicines," said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

"We are excited to partner with IBM to develop novel AI models to advance mRNA science, prepare ourselves for the era of quantum computing, and ready our business for these game-changing technologies. We are aiming for breakthrough advances with quantum computing, so we are investing now in building a quantum-ready workforce, to be fully prepared to harness the power of this technology."

Dr. Darío Gil, Senior Vice President, and Director of IBM Research, said: "We are witnessing a revolution in the world of computing, driven by extraordinary advances in AI and quantum computing."

"Moderna will be able to take advantage of our multi-year research efforts in generative AI for therapeutics that can allow scientists to better understand how molecules behave and may facilitate creating entirely new ones.

"We are also excited to work with Moderna to help prepare their scientists in the knowledge and use of IBM's industry-leading quantum computing technologies with the goal of accelerating the discovery and creation of new therapeutics."

Quantum computing

Quantum computing uses the principles of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.

In the partnership, Moderna scientists will learn how this tech could be applied to previously intractable problems for classical computers. 

Moderna will participate in the IBM Quantum Accelerator program and the IBM Quantum Network. IBM will provide access to quantum computing systems, as well as expertise to assist Moderna in exploring cutting-edge life sciences use-cases powered by quantum technologies.

AI models for mRNA medicine design

Moderna and IBM scientists will use IBM's 'MoLFormer' AI foundation model​: which can help scientists predict a molecule's properties and thus the characteristics of potential mRNA medicines.

Moderna wants to use MoLFormer to help optimize lipid nanoparticles (which encapsulate and protect mRNA as it travels within the body) and mRNA (which acts as instructions to cells in order to fight disease).

Under this initiative, Moderna and IBM will combine formulation discovery with generative AI to design mRNA medicines with optimal safety and performance.

One of the key advantages of the platform is the scale of the data it can process.

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