Technology 2 min read

IBM's Supercomputer Identifies 77 Potential COVID-19 Treatments

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JHVEPhoto /

The world’s fastest supercomputer, IBM Summit, has identified 77 potential COVID-19 treatments. While the supercomputer did not propose a cure for the disease, it’s a step in the right direction.

In 2014, the United States’ Department of Energy commissioned Summit for solving the problems of the world. And for the most part, it did.

Along with predicting extreme weather, Summit has also analyzed genes that contribute to traits like opioid addiction. Also, scientists have been able to use the supercomputer to identify patterns in the cellular system that precedes Alzheimer’s.

Now, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used Summit to identify chemicals that could stop coronavirus from spreading. This is a vital step towards developing a treatment for the disease.

In a statement, director of the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Center for Molecular Biophysics, Jeremy Smith said:

“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.”

The researchers published their findings in the journal ChemRxiv.

Using Summits to Find Potential COVID-19 Treatments

Viruses usually have to inject a “spike” of genetic material into host cells to infect them.

So, Oak Ridge researcher, Micholas Smith, created a model of the coronavirus spike based on previously published research. Using Summit, the researcher simulated how the atoms and particle in the viral protein would react to various compounds.

Summit’s task was to identify the drug compounds that could bind to that spike and potentially stop the spread.

So, the supercomputer ran simulations of over 8,000 compounds and identified 77. It then ranked the 77 based on how likely they were to bind to the spike. “Our results don’t mean that we have found a cure or treatment for the coronavirus,” said Jeremy Smith,

Despite how powerful Summit is, the supercomputer can only do so much. Now human researchers must work to prove which chemicals work best.

Only then will we know whether any of them exhibit the characteristics needed to mitigate this virus,” Smith concluded.

Read More: NASA Uses Supercomputer to Simulate the Martian Weather

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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