IBM’s Summit supercomputer is yet another weapon used by scientists in an attempt to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. And he has already made his first major contribution: he has identified dozens of substances that may contain the spread of infectious agent spread across the planet.
According to researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the United States, the world’s fastest supercomputer has performed thousands of simulations to analyze which chemical compounds could act to prevent the virus from connecting to human cells, infecting them.
From a list of more than 8 thousand substances analyzed, the machine that can perform 200 quadrillion calculations per second identified 77 of them with the capacity to bind to the peak of genetic material of the new coronavirus. In this way, they would prevent infection of the host cells, containing the spread.
The work performed by the Summit took between 1 and 2 days, whereas a normal computer would spend months to do the same simulations. This shows how the supercomputer built by IBM and opened in 2018 can be a great ally in the fight against the disease.
The next steps
After identification, these 77 compounds were classified based on their likelihood of binding to the peak. Now, the research team will run new simulations using the Summit, this time with a more accurate model of the coronavirus peak, published a few days ago.
Then, experimental studies must be carried out in the laboratory by specialists in the field, to prove which of these products work best in containing the virus.
Despite the success in the work, the director of the University of Tennessee and the Center for Molecular Biophysics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Jeremy Smith makes an important caveat: “The results we have obtained do not mean that we have found a cure or treatment for the new coronavirus” , reveals.
The use of Summit aims to provide a guide for researchers, paving the way for the discovery of new possibilities in relation to the coronavirus.