Can IBM Help Researchers Cure the Common Cold?By CIOinsight | Posted 07-17-2012
IBM technology is helping fight the common cold.
Researchers in Melbourne, Australia, are now simulating in 3D the motion of the complete human rhinovirus (HRV), the most frequent cause of the common cold, using Australia's fastest supercomputer, an IBM Blue Gene/Q.
A new antiviral drug to treat rhinovirus infections is being developed by Melbourne company Biota Holdings Ltd., targeted for those with these existing conditions where the common cold is a serious threat to their health and could prove fatal. In conjunction with researchers at the IBM Research Collaboratory for Life Sciences--Melbourne, scientists from St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne are using information on how the new drug works to create a 3D simulation of the complete rhinovirus on IBM supercomputing technology.
To help pave the way for new drug development, researchers are working to build a fully atomistic, three-dimensional simulation of HRV. According to IBM, these calculations are the first to include not only the 3 million-plus atoms of the rhinovirus capsid--or outer shell--and their aqueous environment, but also the virus RNA genome, that packet of genetic information necessary for the virus to replicate.
A new antiviral drug to treat rhinovirus infections is being developed by Melbourne company Biota Holdings Ltd., targeted for those with conditions where the common cold is a serious threat to their health and could prove fatal.
Rhinovirus infection is linked to about 70 percent of all asthma exacerbations, with more than 50 percent of these patients requiring hospitalization. Furthermore, over 35 percent of patients with acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are hospitalized each year due to respiratory viruses including rhinovirus.
A team of researchers led by Professor Michael Parker from St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI) and the University of Melbourne are now using information on how the new drug works to create a 3D simulation of the complete rhinovirus using Australia's fastest supercomputer.
"Our recently published work with Biota shows that the drug binds to the shell that surrounds the virus, called the capsid," Parker said in a statement. "But that work doesn't explain in precise detail how the drug and other similar acting compounds work."
Professor Parker and his team are working on the newly installed IBM Blue Gene/Q at the University of Melbourne with computational biologists from IBM and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).
In production since July 1, 2012, the IBM Blue Gene/Q is the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research in the Southern Hemisphere and currently ranked the fastest in Australia.
"The IBM Blue Gene/Q will provide us with extraordinary 3D computer simulations of the whole virus in a time frame not even dreamt of before," Parker said. "Supercomputer technology enables us to delve deeper in the mechanisms at play inside a human cell, particularly how drugs work at a molecular level. This work offers exciting opportunities for speeding up the discovery and development of new antiviral treatments and hopefully will save many lives around the world," he said.
To read the original eWeek article, click here: IBM Supercomputers Help Researchers Find Cure for the Common Cold