The combination of artificial intelligence and systems biology for intelligent vaccine design

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2020 Nov;15(11):1267-1281. doi: 10.1080/17460441.2020.1791076. Epub 2020 Jul 14.


Introduction: A new body of evidence depicts the applications of artificial intelligence and systems biology in vaccine design and development. The combination of both approaches shall revolutionize healthcare, accelerating clinical trial processes and reducing the costs and time involved in drug research and development.

Areas covered: This review explores the basics of artificial intelligence and systems biology approaches in the vaccine development pipeline. The topics include a detailed description of epitope prediction tools for designing epitope-based vaccines and agent-based models for immune system response prediction, along with a focus on their potentiality to facilitate clinical trial phases.

Expert opinion: Artificial intelligence and systems biology offer the opportunity to avoid the inefficiencies and failures that arise in the classical vaccine development pipeline. One promising solution is the combination of both methodologies in a multiscale perspective through an accurate pipeline. We are entering an 'in silico era' in which scientific partnerships, including a more and more increasing creation of an 'ecosystem' of collaboration and multidisciplinary approach, are relevant for addressing the long and risky road of vaccine discovery and development. In this context, regulatory guidance should be developed to qualify the in silico trials as evidence for intelligent vaccine development.

Keywords: Covid-19; Vaccine development; agent-based models; artificial intelligence; epitope prediction; immune system modeling; systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Drug Development / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Systems Biology*
  • Viral Vaccines / standards*
  • Viral Vaccines / therapeutic use


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines