17 March 2020

Oak Ridge Supercomputer to Find Cure

World's Most Powerful Supercomputer Tasked With Finding Covid-19 Cure zerohedge

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used the world's most powerful supercomputer to identify 77 drug compounds that could lead to scientific breakthroughs to combat Covid-19.

The supercomputer, dubbed Summit, has been tasked to run complex computation across existing databases of drug compounds to see which combinations could thwart Covid-19 from infecting cells.

Summit has been able to "simulate 8,000 compounds in a matter of days to model which could impact that infection process by binding to the virus's spike, and have identified 77 small-molecule compounds, such as medications and natural compounds, that have shown the potential to impair COVID-19's ability to dock with and infect host cells," read an IBM press release, whose technology is present in Summit.

"Summit was needed to rapidly get the simulation results we needed. It took us a day or two whereas it would have taken months on a normal computer," said Jeremy Smith, Governor's Chair at the University of Tennessee, director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics, and principal researcher in the study.

"Our results don't mean that we have found a cure or treatment for COVID-19. We are very hopeful, though, that our computational findings will both inform future studies and provide a framework that experimentalists will use to further investigate these compounds. Only then will we know whether any of them exhibit the characteristics needed to mitigate this virus."

Smith's team is expected to pass on the findings to others in the scientific community, who will then begin to experiment on Summit's 77 compounds to see which one is the most effective against Covid-19.

Our hope is that, by using a database of known compounds, we can greatly reduce the time it takes to make an effective drug publicly available, but there is no guarantee," Smith said.

Once scientists find the right compound, then human testing would likely be next. Trials could take upwards of a year to conduct, suggesting that a vaccine is likely in 2021. As for now, prepare for an exponential rise in virus cases and deaths in the US.

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