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Vaccine maker Moderna has teamed up with IBM to examine how quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to develop future mRNA medicines.

The project aims to merge advanced formulation discovery with generative AI to design mRNA medicines, with optimal safety and performance.

Quantum computing relies on the concepts of quantum mechanics to solve problems that are beyond complicated for conventional computers.

The agreement gives Moderna access to IBM’s quantum computing systems and know-how to explore its use cases in life science.

The tie-up will see Moderna take part in the IBM Quantum Accelerator program and the IBM Quantum Network.

Scientists at IBM and Moderna will also deploy MoLFormer, an AI foundation model, which could help predict a molecule’s properties to greater understand the characteristics of possible mRNA medications.

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Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said: “We are excited to partner with IBM to develop novel AI models to advance mRNA science, prepare ourselves for the era of quantum computing, and ready our business for these game-changing technologies.”

IBM Research senior vice president and director Darío Gil said: “Moderna will be able to take advantage of our multi-year research efforts in generative AI for therapeutics that can allow scientists to better understand how molecules behave and may facilitate creating entirely new ones.

“We are also excited to work with Moderna to help prepare their scientists in the knowledge and use of IBM’s industry-leading quantum computing technologies with the goal of accelerating the discovery and creation of new therapeutics.”