One Scientist. A Billion Experiments.

To assist in the search for potential drugs, an international team led by Harvard Medical School researchers has developed software capable of preparing and screening billions of chemical compounds. Such programs were previously limited to sifting through about 1 million to 10 million compounds each.

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Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, this week the team began using VirtualFlow to screen for drugs that could disrupt coronavirus proteins. Google has given the researchers funds so they can use its cloud computing platform.

The researchers emphasize that in silico screening is not likely to provide an immediate solution to the pandemic, compared to efforts to repurpose existing drugs, if those efforts are successful. But identifying a new class of drugs in the long term that specifically and potently target the virus that causes COVID-19 would be valuable, they say.

“Once the curve is flattened, new drugs—if we can successfully identify them, and especially if they can be made inexpensively—could prevent further spread of the disease,” said Arthanari.


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