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Carleton University researchers employ serious computing power to create COVID-19 treatment

The team is using artificial intelligence and a supercomputer to build synthetic proteins that help the immune system fight off the virus.
By: Alison Larabie Chase
December 10, 2020
NIH/Reuters
NIH/Reuters

Proteins talk to other proteins by touching one another and transmitting signals. That includes the spike proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus, which contacts human cells and replicates, making us sick. But a biology research team at Carleton University in Ottawa have found a way to stop it: They’ve synthesized a new protein that sticks to the COVID-19 spike and keeps it from communicating with other cells.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, which is where the supercomputer comes in. Its brainpower helped the researchers figure out which of the millions of potential protein sequences would work. Then they were built in the lab and tested to determine their effectiveness. The good news: Carleton’s protein is 75 per cent effective at blocking COVID-19 from replicating in a lab setting. Ashkan Golshani, one of the researchers on the project, says the team was pleasantly surprised at how successful their protein has been in fighting the disease at the cellular level. Now their invention will be tested in more real-world scenarios and could be put into use sometime in the coming year.

Source: CBC News

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