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Collaborative $1.2M project uses AI to optimize vaccine production

Project aims to strengthen Medicago's ability to respond effectively to sudden and high-volume demand for vaccines.

May 6, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

QUEBEC CITY — The biopharmaceutical research consortium CQDM is joining with Medicago R&D in Quebec City to fund a research project that will focus on improving its vaccine production productivity.

Medicago R&D, a  biopharmaceutical company that leverages innovative plant-based technologies for rapid responses to emerging global health challenges, is contributing $700,000 to the initiative. Quebec is contributing $500,000 through CQDM.

The project is led by Jacques Corbeil, researcher at the Department of Molecular Medicine at the CHU de Québec-Laval University, and carried out in close collaboration with Medicago R&D. The professor has expertise in medicine and machine learning. He holds the tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Medical Genomics.

“It is important to mention that this project was born out of a common desire to improve vaccine production in order to better protect the health of Canadians. This strong support is particularly timely to lead our fight against the emerging diseases we face today, such as COVID-19 right now,” Corbeil.

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Medicago’s technology uses non-transgenic plants as miniature factories to produce vaccines and therapeutic proteins. The project will leverage artificial intelligence to explore a new angle for analysis of its production parameters. The intent is to strengthen Medicago’s ability to respond effectively to sudden and high-volume demand, like the COVID-19 pandemics.

On March 12, Medicago said it had successfully produced virus-like particles of coronavirus only 20 days after receiving the virus gene, thus having a viable vaccine candidate against COVID-19.