Coronavirus outbreak: World's fastest supercomputer Summit joins fight, shortlists 77 compounds for possible vaccine

  • Researchers are using the IBM-built supercomputer Summit to look through thousands of molecules to find compounds that could be used as a new drug against the novel coronavirus

  • The results of the research being conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, published in the journal ChemRxiv, revealed that the supercomputer identified 77 chemical compounds

  • The researchers ranked compounds of interest that could have value in experimental studies of the virus and published the results in ChemRxiv

Researchers are using the IBM-built supercomputer Summit to look through thousands of molecules to find compounds that could be used as a new drug against the novel coronavirus. The results of the research being conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, published in the journal ChemRxiv, revealed that the supercomputer identified 77 chemical compounds. These compounds could stop the pandemic from spreading through the creation of an effective vaccine.

What is Summit?

Commissioned by the US Department of Energy in 2014, Summit was created with the singular aim of solving some of world’s biggest problems using artificial intelligence, including deep learning.

 Coronavirus outbreak: Worlds fastest supercomputer Summit joins fight, shortlists 77 compounds for possible vaccine

Representational image.

How is Summit fighting coronavirus?

Since viruses affect host cells by injecting them with a 'spike' of genetic material, Summit finds drug compounds that could possibly bind to that spike and stop the spread.

As per a release in the laboratory website, two researchers performed simulations on Summit of more than 8,000 compounds to screen for those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus.

The researchers ranked compounds of interest that could have value in experimental studies of the virus and published the results in ChemRxiv.

Way forward

Jeremy C Smith, Governor’s Chair at the University of Tennessee and director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics, who worked on the research, said that Summit was needed to rapidly get the simulation researchers needed. The results, which came in a day or two, would have otherwise taken months on a normal computer, he added.

Smith said the results do not necessarily mean that they have found a cure for the coronavirus, but are hopeful that the computational findings will help provide the framework for future researchers to investigate the compounds.

Updated Date: Mar 20, 2020 18:46:42 IST



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