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Portuguese scientists participate in project to fight COVID-19 with supercomputers

A project developed by scientists from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (FCUP) one of the 40 initiatives approved by the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. Led by Maria Joo Ramos, a professor at FCUP, the researchers have a mission to discover, through supercomputers, which drugs are effective against the enzyme that allows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to survive in a human.

The FCUP Computational Biochemistry Group project is being developed with the support of IBM through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment platform. "Our research group is very accustomed to working on drug discovery and we have had several consultations with national and international companies in this regard, explains Maria Joo Ramos in a statement, adding that the project is of great importance given the current circumstances.

The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium was created in March by the US Government and includes scientific laboratories, universities and companies such as NASA, IBM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and HP.

The consortium currently has more than 30 supercomputers with more than 420 petaflops to quickly help researchers around the world find ways to fight COVID-19.

Still in March, IBM announced that its supercomputer has discovered substances that can be tested to fight the coronavirus. After sequencing the COVID-19 protein, the company created a computational model on its Summit supercomputer to find molecules linked to the viral protein.

The European Commission recently announced that three supercomputer centers in Italy, Spain and Germany will participate in a European project together with a pharmaceutical company and several biology and biochemistry institutes, with the aim of investigating issues related to a vaccine, treatment and diagnosis. The Exscalate4CoV project will receive support of three million euros from Europe.