Speed is a very important factor for those researching the novel coronavirus, and this is where the world fastest supercomputer can help.
IBM’s supercomputer “Summit” ran thousands of simulations to analyze which drug compounds might effectively stop the virus from infecting host cells.
Summit was commissioned by the US Department of Energy in 2014. Its main purpose was to “solve the world’s problems”.
Viruses infect host cells by injecting them with a “spike” of genetic material. Summit’s job is to find drug compounds that could behind to that spike and possibly stop the spread.
The researchers created a model of the coronavirus spike. Summit simulated how the atoms and particles in the viral protein would react to different compounds.
Summit ran simulations of over 8,000 compounds that could bind to the spike protein of the virus which could limit its ability to spread to host cells. Summit identified 77 of them and ranked them based on how likely they were to bind to the spike.
Summit being the World fastest supercomputer has identified patterns in cellular systems that precede Alzheimer’s.
It has also analyzed genes that contribute to traits like opioid addiction and predicted extreme weather based on climate simulations. Summit got the power of 200 petaflops.
It is one million times more powerful than the fastest laptop. NASA supercomputers are also joining the efforts to look for potential treatment and vaccine candidates.
NASA is diverting spare computing resources to Covid-19 research by US laboratories, companies and academic institutions.
NASA is redirecting its supercomputer time from its Earth science division. This division usually inputs satellite data to run climate models to predict Earth’s future climate.
Researchers working on projects related to Covid-19 will be able to apply for time on the supercomputers. This initiative should speed up calculations necessary for slowing the pandemic.