Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Oxford University have developed a powerful artificial intelligence tool called EVEscape. This tool has shown great promise in predicting how viruses mutate, which could revolutionize our ability to fight future pandemics.
EVEscape has already proven its accuracy by successfully predicting the emergence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, it outperformed traditional lab tests in terms of speed and efficiency. By quickly identifying dangerous virus strains, EVEscape can help us manage pandemics more effectively.
But EVEscape’s capabilities don’t stop at Covid-19. It has also shown its ability to predict mutations in other viruses like HIV and influenza. Ongoing tests are being conducted to determine its effectiveness in predicting potential pandemic-causing viruses such as Nipah and Lassa.
One of the most exciting aspects of EVEscape is its potential to aid in vaccine design. Unlike current methods that rely on retrospective testing, EVEscape can predict future virus mutations. This means that it could help scientists create vaccines that are effective against new variants of viruses. This is a significant breakthrough that could lead to the development of vaccines that are resistant to different strains of viruses.
The underlying model behind EVEscape, called EVE, was originally designed to predict genetic mutation risks in diseases like cancer. However, it was adapted for SARS-CoV-2 when the COVID-19 virus showed its ability to mutate rapidly. EVEscape evaluates the impact of mutations on viral protein fitness, allowing scientists to predict which mutations could evade immunity.
What makes EVEscape even more impressive is its simplicity. It only requires viral protein sequences and structure data to make accurate predictions. As more advanced models are developed, EVEscape can easily be updated to incorporate these improvements.