MIT uses supercomputer to fast track development of COVID-19 treatment drug

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

As part of the White House's COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers used a supercomputer to accelerate their creation of a medication that may treat COVID-19, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The White House's computing consortium allows researchers developing cures and vaccines for COVID-19 access to supercomputers to help speed their work. Supercomputers comprise thousands of processors that collaboratively analyze large amounts of data using artificial intelligence algorithms.

Using a supercomputer, MIT researchers developed a medication that serves as a "decoy" receptor, or protein. Because coronaviruses cause illness by binding to ACE2 receptors, a decoy may prevent illness by allowing the viruses to bind to the fake receptor rather than the real one. A Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University researcher inspired the MIT team to create the COVID-19 drug with a decoy, according to the report.

The MIT researchers used a machine-learning model powered by Amazon Web Services for the project. They plan to test the decoy in mice by June and begin clinical trials at the end of the summer.

"Supercomputing resources accelerate this project tremendously," said Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab, the publication reports. "Using only the lab methods, it would take many months longer, if it was possible at all."


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