Academy & Industry Research Collaboration Center (AIRCC)

Volume 12, Number 11, June 2022

Anti-Virus Autobots: Predicting More Infectious Virus Variants
for Pandemic Prevention through Deep Learning


Glenda Tan Hui En1, Koay Tze Erhn1 and Shen Bingquan2, 1Raffles Institution, Singapore, 2DSO National Laboratories, Singapore


More infectious virus variants can arise from rapid mutations in their proteins, creating new infection waves. These variants can evade one’s immune system and infect vaccinated individuals, lowering vaccine efficacy. Hence, to improve vaccine design, this project proposes Optimus PPIme – a deep learning approach to predict future, more infectious variants from an existing virus (exemplified by SARS-CoV-2). The approach comprises an algorithm which acts as a “virus” attacking a host cell. To increase infectivity, the “virus” mutates to bind better to the host’s receptor. 2 algorithms were attempted – greedy search and beam search. The strength of this variant-host binding was then assessed by a transformer network we developed, with a high accuracy of 90%. With both components, beam search eventually proposed more infectious variants. Therefore, this approach can potentially enable researchers to develop vaccines that provide protection against future infectious variants before they emerge, preempting outbreaks and saving lives.


Virus Variants, Transformers, Deep Learning.