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Nagasaki University and NEC OncoImmunity Collaborate to Design Universal Vaccines Targeting Tropical Infectious Diseases

August 21, 2023

TOKYO, JAPAN – Aug 21, 2023 – Nagasaki University and NEC OncoImmunity (NOI), a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company, have announced that they will collaborate to use NOI’s AI platform to design universal vaccines against highly pathogenic and tropical infectious diseases.

The collaboration between NOI and Nagasaki University aims to harness the power of advanced AI to optimize vaccine designs to be universally and broadly protective against certain pathogen families prevalent in tropical regions. Under the scope of the collaboration, the AI technology from NOI will be used to design both T cell and B cell vaccines. Nagasaki University will subsequently validate the designs using their extensive “wet-lab” capabilities and convalescent donor samples collected from their extensive network of tropical field stations.

This collaboration has also led to the establishment of the Vaccine Informatics Department at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University. The department, led by Dr. Trevor Clancy, Chief Scientific Officer of NOI, will employ its AI technology to support the Nagasaki University team in conducting basic research aimed at understanding the immune correlates of protection across a range of tropical diseases. Members of NEC’s AI drug development team will also participate in this department.

Professor Takeshi Nagayasu, M.D., Ph.D., Trustee (Strategic Development and Research), Nagasaki University

“We are delighted to embark on this collaboration with NEC OncoImmunity in our pursuit of designing universal vaccines targeting tropical infectious diseases. By combining the expertise of Nagasaki University in tropical medicine with the advanced AI technology of NEC, we aim to make significant strides in vaccine development for the benefit of global health.”

Richard Stratford, CEO of NOI, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating:

“NOI’s core AI technology is well suited for the development of universal vaccines, and we are fully committed to delivering effective vaccine designs to Nagasaki University that target highly pathogenic and tropical infectious diseases. We are immensely proud of this collaboration with such a world-renowned tropical medicine institute, and we anticipate significant outcomes from this project.”

Masamitsu Kitase, Corporate Senior VP, Head of the Healthcare and Life Science Division, NEC Corporation, commented:

“The NEC Group is very excited by this collaboration with Nagasaki University, which will demonstrate interdisciplinary research between computer technology and knowledge for Tropical Medicine, and promises to make significant contributions to vaccine development. Infectious diseases have gained even more attention following the recent pandemic, and NEC is committed to using its state-of-art AI technology to develop effective vaccines in this space.”

About the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University

The Institute of Tropical Medicine was established in 1942 as the East Asia Research Institute of Endemics, affiliated with Nagasaki Medical College, and later became the Institute of Tropical Medicine, an independent organization separate from the Medical College, in 1967. The Institute is the only research and teaching institution in Japan devoted exclusively to the study of tropical diseases. The Institute is a component of the DEJIMA Infectious Disease Research Alliance (DIDA), which was established at the University to comprehensively and strategically manage the University’s infectious disease research resources. Within DIDA, the University operates a “World-Leading R&D Center for Vaccine Development Program,” funded by SCARDA* for five universities in Japan. The development of vaccines using artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the main pillars of Nagasaki University’s vaccine R&D program.

*SCARDA: The “Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response” set up under AMED and serves as a command post to coordinate vaccine development in Japan.

About NEC OncoImmunity

NEC OncoImmunity AS is an AI driven biotechnology company that has developed proprietary machine learning-based software which addresses the key knowledge gaps in the prediction of bona fide immunogenic neoantigens for personalized cancer immunotherapy. The AI technology can be used to identify optimal neoantigen targets for truly personalized cancer vaccines & cell therapies in a clinically actionable timeframe, and also facilitate effective patient selection for cancer immunotherapy. The AI technology has also been repurposed to identify optimal antigens from pathogens for the purpose of designing broadly protective vaccines against highly diverse viral species and viral genera, that are effective in the global population. For additional information, please also visit NEC OncoImmunity at www.oncoimmunity.com/.

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com, and NEC’s AI Drug Development Business at www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/ai-drug/.

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