Developing a new vaccine typically takes more than a decade. The Inno4Vac project plans to harness the latest advances in fields like big data and AI to speed up the process.
Vaccines are a huge public health achievement, saving an estimated 2.5 million lives every year and protecting millions more from illness and disability. However, developing new vaccines is extremely time consuming, costly and risky; on average it takes over 10 years and costs more than EUR 800 million to bring a vaccine to the market.
However, in recent years, researchers in academia and biotech companies have made huge strides in fields such as immunology, big data and artificial intelligence. These advances could potentially speed up the development of new vaccines and make the whole process more efficient.
New IMI project Inno4Vac aims to harness these advances and incorporate them into the vaccine industry. The 6-year project brings together experts in clinical research, immunology, microbiology, systems biology, mathematical models, and regulatory issues.
This diverse team will focus on four key areas. Two areas focus on in silico (i.e. computer-based) tools. One will see the project use artificial intelligence, big data analysis and computational modelling to build an open access, cloud-based platform for developing vaccines and assessing their efficacy in silico. The second in silico area focuses on developing a modular computational platform for modelling the manufacture and stability testing of vaccines.
The other two areas focus on lab-based tools. One will develop new and improved models of certain diseases such as flu that can be used to study vaccine efficacy early in the development process. The other aims to deliver models based on human cells that will offer a more reliable view of the level of immune protection a vaccine could offer.
Throughout the project, the partners will develop strategies and roadmaps to ensure that their models meet the needs of medicines regulators and integrate them into vaccine development processes.
Ultimately, the models developed by the project should help to make vaccine development both faster and more efficient.
Inno4Vac has a total budget of EUR 38.5 million. Around half of this comes from IMI, and half comes in the form of in-kind contributions from the EFPIA companies participating in the project.
Read the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) press release