The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research partnered with Southwest Research Institute in Texas to utilize artificial intelligence, machine learning and high-performance computing to detect compounds that could target the novel coronavirus, Nextgov reported Thursday.
WRAIR“™s Experimental Therapeutics Branch and SwRI applied the latter“™s AI-based approach to identifying molecules that can bind with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevent its attachment to cells.
The partnership also worked with researchers for the Department of Defense“™s HPC Modernization Program to deploy supercomputers capable of rapidly screening large amounts of compounds with COVID-19 drug treatment potential.
Maj. Brandon Pybus, director of WRAIR's experimental therapeutics unit, said his team accomplished a rapid scan of 41M compounds and downselected 13 for further assessment.
“What we saw is that“”like we had hoped“”it did really enrich the hit rate, which shaved a tremendous amount of time, years, off the front end of the drug discovery development,“ Pybus told the publication.
Pybus added that it took “a whole-of-government" approach for the research and development effort and that the team is “very open“ to collaborations that would further quicken the discovery of possible COVID-19 treatment options.