IBM wants to use its AI to help new antibody discoveries

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IBM has announced a new collaboration with global research company Boehringer Ingelheim to use its AI foundation models to aid in the discovery of new antibody treatments.

Antibody treatments are the dominant weapon in the fight against a wide range of serious diseases, and produce far less side effects when compared to more traditional treatments.

It is hoped that by developing a foundational AI model for antibody research, the production of lifesaving treatments can become scalable and more efficient.

Generative AI for antibody discovery

Speaking at the launch event in IBM’s Zurich research lab, Alessandro Curioni, IBM Fellow, Vice President Europe and Africa and Director IBM Research Zurich, highlighted the potential benefits of foundational models beyond AI and quantum, stating that, “Foundation models can be used to tackle problems and data that are outside the language domain.”

One of the most significant challenges hindering the development of new antibody treatments is the lab based nature of antibody research. The successful development of a new antibody treatment requires controlled repetition, meaning that new treatments cannot be produced quickly enough, slowing down the rate of potential discoveries.

Therefore, IBM and Boehringer Ingelheim hope to scale the development of new antibodies by using generative AI to produce molecules that haven’t previously been examined, removing non-viable candidates and allowing researchers to focus on those that are more promising, greatly enhancing efficiency.

Furthermore, generative AI can help remove unconscious biases in the development of new antibodies by applying each candidate to a wide range of potential applications outside of an individual's area of expertise, greatly improving not only the number of discoveries, but also the number of use cases for each discovery.

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.