Computer giant IBM is teaming up with Moderna in order to harness the combined powers of generative AI and quantum computing to advance vaccine development. According to a report by CNBC, the companies signed an agreement for Moderna to access IBM’s quantum computing systems. With the aid of these advanced systems, their goals are to accelerate the discovery and creation of new messenger RNA vaccines and therapies.
In a statement, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said of the partnership, “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.”
The use of AI to help accelerate drug discovery in itself isn’t new. Earlier this month, MIT researchers announced DiffDock, a new generative AI model that also hopes to aid in future drug discovery. Though with IBM’s quantum computing systems, Moderna has the chance to make significant strides in drug development. Part of the partnership will see IBM providing experts to assist Moderna scientists explore and use their quantum technologies.
What makes this agreement interesting is the use of quantum computing technology. Traditional computers and computing technology store information at the most basic levels in zeros and ones. But with quantum computers, the information is stored in quantum bits or qubits. What makes qubits special is that they have a third state called “superposition” that allows them to represent a one or a zero at the same time.
Another part of this deal will see Moderna also using IBM’s generative AI model, MoLFormer. All of this comes as IBM looks to further invest in AI and Moderna hopes to use emerging AI technology to develop advanced vaccines and treatments for diseases.
All of this is coming at a time when multiple startups and established research labs are investing resources and hope that advancements in AI could help usher in next-generation medical treatments and methods to reduce medical costs.