Middle East’s 1st ‘Biocomputing lab’; A joint initiative of BioMap-MBZUAI

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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MBZUAI_BioMap partnership
Dr. Kun Zhang, Ms. Jiarun Qu sign agreement in the presence of Mr. Sultan Al Hajji

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the prestigious AI research institution in UAE, has formed a strategic partnership with BioMap, a well-known AI platform in the life science industry headquartered in Beijing, to create the first-ever biocomputing innovation research laboratory in the Middle East.

xTrimo Model

The innovation lab will employ BioMap’s Cross-modal Transformer Representation of Interactome and Multi-Omics (xTrimo) model to explore innovative technologies that advance large-scale life science models, including de novo drug design, protein generation, protein structure prediction, and cell function prediction.

Leveraging xTrimo’s state-of-the-art performance, the partnership aims to make breakthroughs in AI-generated proteins (AIGP) that address the Middle East’s critical needs in medical health, drug design, energy, and environmental protection.

MBZUAI_BioMap healthcare partnership

During the announcement and signing ceremony attended by BioMap’s VP of Strategic Development, Ms. Jiarun Qu, and MBZUAI’s Dr. Kun Zhang, in the presence of
Mr. Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at MBZUAI, the two organizations presented their collaboration roadmap. BioMap showcased the technical progress of its xTrimo model system and its strategic development plan for the Middle East.

Jiarun Qu_MBZUAI_BioMap partnership
Jiarun Qu
VP – Strategic Development

“We want to achieve a tenfold increase in alkane oxygenase catalytic function. This could do a lot in improving efficiency and lessening the environmental impact of processes like oil and gas storage, transportation, and marine oil spill cleanup. We plan to collaborate using large-scale AI models and multi-omics pre-training to accelerate the discovery of drug targets. Our goal is to promote the development of more personalized treatment options in the future.”

Sustainability & human health

The lab will focus on two research areas, the development of new oil degradation enzymes through de novo design and the identification of potential drug targets for treating rare diseases.

Ms. Qu also shared the lab’s research plans for oil degradation enzymes and how their AIGP platform will create a new protein capable of breaking down oil contaminations at lower temperatures without the need for coenzyme assistance.

In addition, the two organizations will focus on scientific research related to age-related diseases, a significant public health challenge worldwide. Ms. Qu emphasized that due to people living longer and the population getting older, drug targets for aging-related diseases have become a hot topic of research in the life sciences field.

What is BioMap?

BioMap is a large-scale AI life science platform that was cofounded in 2020 by Baidu’s CEO Mr. Robin Li. Its goal is to decode life and address industry challenges through advanced biotech and AI, such as target discovery, enzyme optimization, and de novo drug design.

Related: Biopharma giant AstraZeneca’s to build sustainable offices at Dubai Science Park