World's fastest supercomputer begins hunt for coronavirus vaccine

The world’s fastest supercomputer has been tasked with going through thousands of molecules to find potential compounds that could be used to create a coronavirus vaccine. 

Created On: Mar 20, 2020 14:05 IST
COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 infection

The world’s fastest supercomputer has been tasked with going through thousands of molecules to find potential compounds that could be used to create a coronavirus vaccine. 

The supercomputer went through many molecules to find the compounds that could be used to create the new drug against SARS-CoV-2. The computer has managed to find around 77 compounds, which could potentially help prevent the virus from entering human cells.

The IBM-built supercomputer summit has a size of atleast two tennis courts. It is being used by biologists at the University of Tennessee. 

Key Highlights 

• The findings of the supercomputer’s research were published recently in a scientific paper. The paper is, however, currently awaiting peer review. 

• The study found that the surface of the coronaviruses is covered with crown-like proteins, which allow the the viruses to bind and invade human cells. 

• Hence to a find a drug that can be used against the virus, it is significant to understand the proteins the virus contains and the human cell host receptors and the way other chemical compounds interact with them.

• The supercomputer summit was used to analyze a database comprising at least 8,000 compounds, which are known from the existing chemicals, drugs, herbal medicines and natural products.

• The computer’s main objective was to identity the compounds that appear to be capable of binding with the protein spikes SARS-CoV-2 virus and block it from invading human cells.

According to the study’s author Jeremy Smith, the computer took merely two days to look through the samples, which normally would have taken months on a normal system. Smith is the Director of the University of Tennessee Center for Molecular Biophysics.

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