AI May Predict the Next High-Risk Virus To Jump From Animals to Humans
Most emerging infectious diseases of humans (like COVID-19) are zoonotic – caused by viruses originating from other animal species. Identifying high-risk viruses earlier can improve research and surveillance priorities. A study published in
on September 28th by Nardus Mollentze, Simon Babayan, and Daniel Streicker at University of Glasgow, United Kingdom suggests that machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence) using viral genomes may predict the likelihood that any animal-infecting virus will infect humans, given biologically relevant exposure.
Identifying zoonotic diseases prior to emergence is a major challenge because only a small minority of the estimated 1.67 million animal viruses are able to infect humans. To develop machine learning models using viral genome sequences, the researchers first compiled a dataset of 861 virus species from 36 families. They then built machine learning models, which assigned a probability of human infection based on patterns in virus genomes. The authors then applied the best-performing model to analyze patterns in the predicted zoonotic potential of additional virus genomes sampled from a range of species.
Oct 01th, 2021