Moderna, a developer of mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccines, has teamed up with technology company IBM to enhance its mRNA capabilities.

The collaboration will use advanced technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance mRNA research and science.

Quantum computing is an emerging, advanced technology that leverages the principles of quantum mechanics to solve complex problems beyond the range of classical computers.

Under the partnership, Moderna will take part in the IBM Quantum Accelerator programme and will join the IBM Quantum Network.

IBM will provide Moderna scientists with access to quantum computing systems and help them explore the complex life sciences use-cases using quantum technologies.

Moderna scientists will learn different ways to apply quantum technology to solve problems that were previously intractable for classical computers.

Furthermore, the two companies will jointly explore the potential application of quantum approaches to address scientific challenges faced by Moderna.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said: “Since our inception, we have always strived to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, leveraging innovations to deliver the greatest possible impact to people through mRNA medicines.

“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.

“We are aiming for breakthrough advances with quantum computing, so we are investing now in building a quantum-ready workforce, to be fully prepared to harness the power of this technology.”

In addition to quantum computing, Moderna and IBM partnership will use MoLFormer, an AI foundation model that enables rapid and easy screening of molecules for new applications.

The scientists will apply MoLFormer to predict a molecule’s properties and understand the characteristics of potential mRNA medicines.

Moderna aims to use MoLFormer to help optimise lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), which encapsulate and protect mRNA and serves as vehicles to deliver the mRNA within the body.

Under the partnership, Moderna will combine its advanced formulation discovery with IBM’s generative AI to design mRNA medicines with optimal safety and performance.

IBM Research senior vice president and director Darío Gil said: “We are witnessing a revolution in the world of computing, driven by extraordinary advances in AI and quantum computing.

“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.”