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The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has deployed the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer built by IBM. The name of the machine is: Summit. It fights against COVID-19. Summit provides scientists with unbelievable computing power, targeting challenges in energy, AI, Human health and more. Summit is a perfect fit for the challenge of COVID-19.
Emergency computation time on Summit is granted to Researchers from ORNL . Furter, they use it to perform simulations with unprecedented speed.
In just 2 days Summit identified and studied 77 small molecule drug potential compounds to fight against the COVID-19. A task that – using a traditional wet-lab approach – would have taken years.
The researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used Summit to perform simulations of more than 8,000 possible compounds to screen for those that have the most likely to have an impact on the disease. This occurs by binding to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells. They ranked the compounds of interest that could have value in experimental studies of the virus. *
Why do we need a supercomputer to fight the coronavirus
Viruses infect cells by binding to them and using a ‘spike’ to inject their genetic material into the host cell. So, to understand new biological compounds, like viruses, researchers in wet labs grow the micro-organism. In this way, they see how it reacts in real life to the introduction of new compounds. This is usually a slow process. As a fact, ee narrow down the range of potential variables by performing computer digital simulations.
Computer simulations can examine how different variables react with different viruses. Each of these individual variables can comprise billions of unique data points. As a result these data points are compounded with multiple simulations, this can become a very time-intensive process if a conventional computing system is used.
Still some way to go, though
The results from Summit do not mean that a cure or treatment for the new coronavirus has been found. Instead, scientists hope that the computational findings will inform future studies and provide a focused framework for wet-labs to further investigate the compounds. Only then will we know if any of them have the needed characteristics to attack and kill the virus.
But no doubt – Summit has helped shrink the front-end part of the process of conventional methods, that scientists normally would have used.
IBM Watson in action, too, against COVID-19 and its impact
Our Watson Health unit works directly with health organizations around the world. Summit’s computational power fights against Coronavirus. So we better understand the nature of COVID-19. In addition, IBM Clinical Development system is available without charge to national health agencies. We reduced the time and cost of clinical trials by providing data and analysis from web-enabled devices.
Also, we made available our cognitive Operational Risk Insight tool to not-for-profit organizations, charged with information about the virus spread.
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We invite you, as well, to check how IBM technology helps researchers generate potential new drug candidates for COVID-19 https://covid19-mol.mybluemix.net/