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AMED selects NEC for design of universal vaccine against influenza virus strains

NEC was selected following its submission of a research project titled “Development of universal vaccine design technology using computational science” in response to a public call for proposals by SCARDA, which operates under Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development

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NEC Corporation has been selected to participate in a vaccine/new modality research and development project beginning in FY2023. NEC was selected following its submission of a research project titled “Development of universal vaccine design technology using computational science” in response to a public call for proposals by the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA), which operates under the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

During this research project, NEC will utilise AI technologies to identify immunogenic regions that are effective against a wide range of influenza virus strains and to design a universal vaccine.

In this research project, a universal vaccine will be designed for influenza using a proprietary computer analysis technology based on several state-of-the-art AI technologies. Specifically, the genomic and genetic information of influenza viruses will be analysed to search for and identify immunogenic regions, and verification tests will be conducted. NEC will then aim to design a vaccine based on these results within a year of the project initiation and to obtain a non-clinical PoC in the near future.

This research and development will be carried out in collaboration with Specially Appointed Professor Dr Keiko Udaka of Kochi University.

This research will move forward using AI and computational science to identify protein regions that are effective for vaccine designs. Moreover, NEC will utilise these research results to develop and put to practical use universal vaccines in collaboration with other partners having modality in order to effectively deliver benefits to patients.

“We are pleased that our proposal has been selected by SCARDA for the development of universal vaccine design technology through industry-government-academia collaboration. Amid expectations for the early development of vaccines, computational science, including AI technologies, is extremely important and can drive meaningful advances within the pharmaceutical industry. Going forward, NEC will continue contributing to global health and the provision of better vaccines by utilising cutting-edge technologies,” said Masamitsu Kitase, Corporate Senior VP and Head of the Healthcare and Life Science Division at NEC Corporation.

“Having worked together with NEC for many years on the development of a peptide immunotherapy for malignant tumors, I am truly looking forward to partnering with the company on the development of a universal vaccine for the influenza virus through this SCARDA program. I anticipate that AI and ICT will contribute to not only better vaccine development but also preemptive measures aimed at containing pandemics,” said Dr Keiko Udaka, Specially Appointed Professor, Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Kochi University.

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