Melbourne researchers are now simulating in 3D, the motion of the complete human rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, on Australia's fastest supercomputer, paving the way for new drug development.
Rhinovirus infection is linked to about 70 per cent of all asthma exacerbations with more than 50 per cent of these patients requiring hospitalisation. Furthermore, over 35 per cent of patients with acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are hospitalised each year due to respiratory viruses including rhinovirus.
A new antiviral drug to treat rhinovirus infections is being developed by Melbourne company Biota Holdings Ltd, targeted for those with these existing conditions where the common cold is a serious threat to their health and could prove fatal.
A team of researchers led by Professor Michael Parker from St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI) and the University of Melbourne is now using information on how the new drug works to create a 3D simulation of the complete rhinovirus using Australia's fastest supercomputer.
"Our recently published work with Biota shows that the drug binds to the shell that surrounds the virus, called the capsid. But that work doesn't explain in precise detail how the drug and other similar acting compounds work," Professor Parker said.
Professor Parker and his team are working on the newly installed IBM Blue Gene/Q at the University of Melbourne with computational biologists from IBM and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).
In production from 1 July 2012, the IBM Blue Gene/Q is the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research in the Southern Hemisphere and currently ranked the fastest in Australia.
"The IBM Blue Gene/Q will provide us with extraordinary 3D computer simulations of the whole virus in a time frame not even dreamt of before," Professor Parker said.
|Contact: Rebecca Scott|
University of Melbourne