Under the agreement, Moderna will gain access to IBM's quantum computing systems and expertise in pursuing advanced life sciences use cases driven by quantum technologies
US biotechnology company Moderna has signed an agreement with IBM to explore quantum computing and generative artificial intelligence (AI) for advancing and expediting messenger RNA (mRNA) research and science.
Under the agreement, Moderna will gain access to IBM’s quantum computing systems and expertise in pursuing advanced life sciences use cases driven by quantum technologies.
The biotechnology company, which is involved in developing mRNA therapeutics and vaccines, will take part in the IBM Quantum Accelerator programme and the IBM Quantum Network.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said: “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.”
Both companies will probe into the possible application of quantum approaches to solve the scientific challenges faced by Moderna.
Scientists from Moderna and IBM will leverage MoLFormer, a pretrained AI model that deduces the structure of molecules from simple representations.
MoLFormer can assist scientists in predicting a molecule’s properties and helping them understand the characteristics of potential mRNA medicines, said IBM.
IBM senior vice president and research director Darío Gil said: “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.”
Moderna aims to utilise MoLFormer to streamline lipid nanoparticles and mRNA. Lipid nanoparticles enclose and protect mRNA as it moves within the body while the latter acts as instructions to cells to combat diseases.
As part of the initiative, both companies intend to bring together formulation discovery with generative AI to develop mRNA medicines that are safe and effective.