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Coronavirus

NEC taps AI for faster path to coronavirus vaccine

Japanese group conducts genetic analysis, now seeks partners for trials

NEC has joined the ranks of companies searching for a coronavirus vaccine.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese technology group NEC has used artificial intelligence to conduct a faster genetic decoding of the novel coronavirus, aiming to accelerate the development of a vaccine to quell the pandemic.

NEC completed its analysis of the genetic structure in a month, far less time than typically needed to decode a virus.

Using proprietary AI designed to combat cancer, NEC located several genes in the coronavirus that could help activate patients' immune systems. It also identified a combination of genes less likely to be affected by mutations.

The Japanese group plans to use its findings to develop a vaccine candidate with a partner. NEC is looking at domestic and foreign drugmakers that could help with clinical trials and manufacturing, though a final product is unlikely to be ready for some time.

Many players have entered the race to develop coronavirus vaccine candidates. Johnson & Johnson expects to have its candidate ready for emergency use in 2021, and the company is preparing for clinical trials and mass production.

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