COVID-19: Could AI and supercomputers unlock the pathogen puzzle?


Futuris looks at how Artificial Intelligence and High Performance Computing are helping in the fight against COVID-19.

Computer scientists at this laboratory are using massive computational power against the pandemic.They say the enemy they are fighting is unlike any other.

"Compared to other viruses that we have worked on, for instance the Zika virus, the coronavirus has a far greater complexity. It is composed of many more proteins, that have very different biological roles,”says Andrea Beccari, a computer scientist for bio-pharmaceutical company Dompé and Project Coordinator for the E4C Project.

The team taking part in this European research project are trying to identify molecules that can block the progression of the virus inside the human body. The problem is researchers are having to explore a huge library of around 500 billion molecules.

To identify the most promising candidates in the shortest possible time, the scientists have turned to supercomputers. These can process up to 3 million molecules per second.

"Computers are essential, as we’re able to work at the same time with all 25 proteins of the virus which are involved in the various mechanisms related to infection, replication and block the human immune system - everything in a simultaneous way," explains Beccari.

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