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Jan 19, 2021

A Language AI Is Accurately Predicting Covid-19 ‘Escape’ Mutations

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, information science, robotics/AI

Weird, right?

The team’s critical insight was to construct a “viral language” of sorts, based purely on its genetic sequences. This language, if given sufficient examples, can then be analyzed using NLP techniques to predict how changes to its genome alter its interaction with our immune system. That is, using artificial language techniques, it may be possible to hunt down key areas in a viral genome that, when mutated, allow it to escape roaming antibodies.

It’s a seriously kooky idea. Yet when tested on some of our greatest viral foes, like influenza (the seasonal flu), HIV, and SARS-CoV-2, the algorithm was able to discern critical mutations that “transform” each virus just enough to escape the grasp of our immune surveillance system.

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