Coronavirus: Using European supercomputing, EU-funded research project announces promising results for potential treatment*

_coronavirus_

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


EU-funded consortium Exscalate4CoV has announced that an already registered generic drug used to treat osteoporosis, Raloxifene, could be an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients with mildly symptomatic infection. The consortium is using an EU-backed supercomputing platform, one of the world’s most powerful, to check the potential impact of known molecules against the genomic structure of coronavirus. This is one of many examples of how the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 is bringing together the best of European researchers, pharmaceutical companies, technologies and research infrastructures to contribute to defeating the virus.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: ”Today, we need science more than ever. Since January we have mobilised all our efforts to support R&I actors in their respective fields to find solutions and stop the virus. This is why we have provided Exscalate4CoV with €3 million to fund their research, and I welcome the promising results they have achieved.”

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: “The Exscalate4Cov platform brings innovation to drug discovery in Europe and worldwide. It demonstrates the value of true pan-European cooperation by joining the best capacities Europe has to offer in the fields of biomedical science and high-performance computingWe will continue to mobilise all technologies available, including artificial intelligence, to fight the coronavirus.

Exscalate4CoV, using a unique combination of high performance computing power and AI with biological processing, brings together 18 partners and further 15 associated members. This includes supercomputing centres in Italy, Spain and Germany, large research centres, pharmaceutical companies and biological institutes from across Europe. The platform has around 120 Petaflops computing power, allowing research into the behaviors of molecules with the aim of identifying an effective treatment against coronavirus. The project’s chemical library is constantly growing thanks to agreements with newly associated pharmaceutical companies.

The consortium has already virtually tested 400 000 molecules using its supercomputers. 7 000 molecules were preselected and further tested “in vitro”. Raloxifene emerged as a promising molecule: according to the project, it could be effective in blocking the replication of the virus in cells, and could thus hold up the progression of the disease. Researchers have indicated that its advantages include its high patient tolerability, safety and established toxicological profile.

As a next step, the consortium will be discussing with the European Medicines Agency how to advance to clinical trials to evaluate the new potential use for Raloxifene. If successful, the drug could be quickly made available in high volumes and at low cost.

Background

Using a European supercomputing platform, one of the world’s most powerful, Exscalate4CoV is able to perform in weeks a screening process that with traditional techniques would take many years. In a first step it has so far identified 6 out of 25 different protein models of the novel coronavirus that are constantly evolving, with various mutations received weekly, which are translated into a digital form for use in the next step. The second step is to match the digital structure of coronavirus proteins against the available library of molecules. In the third and final step, the identified molecules undergo several additional biological screening operations in laboratories located in Belgium and Germany to understand how an identified molecule interacts with the virus model and to assess the degree to which it can stop its activity.

In the next phase, the project will enlarge the above tests by considering an extended library of 5 million molecules, out of the 500 billion molecules it disposes. It is expected that further potential molecules will be identified and contribute to an effective overall treatment of the disease.

Exscalate4CoV is one of 18 research projects awarded a total of€48.2 million, from a recent EU emergency call on coronavirus research, to work on preparedness and response to outbreaks, rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests, new treatments and new vaccines. The work of the Exscalate4CoV consortium was made possible by €3 million of emergency EU funding as part of the EU coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the project has gained support from companies in the pharmaceutical industry who provide it with drug samples via its biology DrugBox open platform.

In the period 2014-2018, the EU has invested more than €600 million in high performance computing from Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility. In 2018, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking was established, a €1 billion joint initiative between the EU and 32 European countries to develop a world class supercomputing ecosystem in Europe.

On 4 May, the Commission pledged €1.4 billion in total during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event, of which €1 billion comes through Horizon 2020 and is aimed at developing vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Since January 2020, the Commission has mobilised a total of €547 million under Horizon 2020 for the fight against coronavirus.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

European Union presents its progress towards sustainable development

The ephemerality of the public-private health boundary

These islands are using tourists to help offset the effects of tourism

Falsified medicines: new rules to enhance patients’ safety

Banning caged farming in the EU: Hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

Draghi: ECB to flood Eurozone and the world with more zero cost money; risk of drowning in cash

Why the ECB prepares to flood the markets with more and free of charge euro; everybody needs that now

ECOFIN: Choosing between the re-unification of Eurozone and a stalemate

The Syrian knot cannot be cut without devastating consequences

UN highlights importance of skills development on World Youth Skills Day

More progress needed on reducing and redesigning agricultural support policies

Commission unveils its first Strategic Foresight Report: charting the course towards a more resilient Europe

Should trade continue to be global after the pandemic?

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Resettlement needs set to rise to 1.4 million people in 2019, UN refugee agency reports

ECB to buy corporate bonds: Will government financing be the next step?

Humans aren’t made for repetition – it’s time AI took over manufacturing

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

Income inequality threatens the socio-political structures in developed countries

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

From cheeseburgers to coral reefs, the science of decision-making can change the world

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey and so is Erdogan

Coronavirus: rescEU masks delivered to Spain, Italy and Croatia

EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines must guarantee safety and accessibility for all

EU-US ties to break over Iran; Democrats’ electoral win may not change it

Fight against money laundering and terrorist financing: Commission assesses risks and calls for better implementation of the rules

Bulgaria: MEPs call for EU values to be fully and unconditionally respected

Redistribution of seats in the European Parliament after Brexit

Writing a new story in gender inequalities: women gaining space and respect in medicine

This man swam under the East Antarctic ice sheet to highlight the impact of climate change

To achieve net-zero carbon cities and buildings we need systemic efficiency

The world wide web is 30 years old. What better time to fight for its future?

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

A vaccination race between nations can have no winners

SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

Lagarde: Keep feeding the banks cut down wages and food subsidies

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Thousands flee fresh violence in South Sudan, many ‘suffering from trauma’

Women lose most from the climate crisis. How can we empower them?

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

COVID-19 vaccination: MEPs call for EU and global solidarity

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate

New challenge: Not going through “burnout” in times of quarantine

Forced Vaccination in COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethically Justified Intervention or Draconian Measure?

Nearly a third of the globe is now on Facebook – chart of the day

Relieving the suffering of dying: Home Palliative Care as a spiritual coping strategy

Aid funding for Occupied Palestinian Territories at ‘all-time low’

‘Disaster resilient’ farming reduces agriculture risks, yields economic gains, says new UN agriculture agency report

Should tech companies pay us for our data?

Latin America is a mass-transit powerhouse. But it needs fine-tuning

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

This is why mountains matter more than you think

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s