Our member NEC OncoImmunity has adapted their cancer-fighting artificial intelligence technology to combat COVID-19.
Advanced cancer technologies and artificial intelligence may prove to be key in the search for a vaccine against the SARS-COV-2 virus. The Norwegian biotech company NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI) is now accelerating efforts to create a vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This COVID-19 project represents an exciting opportunity for NOI to showcase its AI-driven epitope prediction platform the “NEC Immune Profiler” in the field of infectious disease. Whilst NOI has focused its efforts to-date on the oncology field, especially the design of personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines, its AL-platform is equally well suited to designing vaccines to address infectious diseases,” said Dr. Richard Stratford, Chief Executive Officer, at NEC OncoImmunity.
This week, NEC OncoImmunity AS announced analysis results from efforts using AI prediction platforms to design blueprints for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that can drive potent T-cell responses in the majority of the global population.
These AI prediction platforms are based on the AI technology used by NEC and NOI in the development of personalized neoantigen cancer vaccines.
“It is encouraging that our AI and bioinformatics platform can design vaccine blueprints that have the potential to induce a broad T-cell response, that may not only be protective, but also stimulate a long-lived memory immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 and its future mutated versions”, said Dr. Trevor Clancy, Chief Scientific Officer, at NEC OncoImmunity and the lead corresponding author in the paper.
Artificial intelligence against cancer
NEC OncoImmunity is a Norwegian biotech company, founded by Dr. Richard Stratford and Dr. Trevor Clancy in 2014 and the company has been a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster since its early days.
The founders’ vision was to use innovative software solutions for the development of personalized neoantigen vaccines. The machine learning software they have developed can identify neoantigens, which are key to unlocking the immune system and combating cancer.
- Read more: Machine Learning for Immunotherapy  (first published 14 December 2018)
NEC OncoImmunity developed the technology and grew the company in the Oslo Cancer Cluster ecosystem, making use of the cluster’s advice and support, and networking and partnering opportunities.
Backed by a tech corporation
In 2019, the Japanese multinational tech corporation NEC acquired OncoImmunity AS. NEC had recently launched an artificial intelligence driven drug discovery business and stated that NEC OncoImmunity AS would be integral in developing NEC’s immunotherapy pipeline.
- Read more: Norwegian AI-based cancer research gets a boost  (first published 2 August 2019).
NEC OncoImmunity have been working hard for the last months to adapt their technologies to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“As a company that seeks to enhance the well-being of society, NEC will continue to capitalize on research and development that maximizes the strengths of our AI technology to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In collaboration with companies and institutions around the world, we aim to enable people to live their daily lives with as much safety and security as possible,” said Motoo Nishihara, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at NEC.
NEC is now publishing this research to support scientific advancements in the field and is ready to start partnering efforts to pursue the development of an effective vaccine targeting the global population.
- Read more: NEC publishes design blueprints for SARS-COV-2 vaccines 
- Read the report: Artificial intelligence predicts the immunogenic landscape of SARS-CoV-2: toward universal blueprints for vaccine designs