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Caring for Life

Supercomputers Mimic Brain Activity, Hunt for COVID Treatments

Oct. 15, 2021 — Machine discovering has appear a extended way in the quarter-century given that a laptop nicknamed Deep Blue shocked the earth by beating chess champion Garry Kasparov. Currently, when our smartphones have significantly more computing power than Deep Blue, scientists have qualified their sights on even even larger opponents, which include potentially fatal illnesses like cancer, coronary heart condition, and COVID-19.

When supercomputers hunt for new drug cocktails to deal with these conditions, scientists can feed the devices mountains of information from a long time of reports to aid inform the evaluation. But the coronavirus is still way too new and mutating way too rapidly for scientists to flip to these standard procedures.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies have a new way to deal with the deficiency of information on the new virus. They’re coaching computer systems to operate algorithms patterned following signaling networks in the human brain. Like the brain, these neural networks can “learn” and adapt to rapidly changing facts, forging new connections on the fly.

To recognize drug combinations that may well get the job done in opposition to COVID-19, the investigators are inquiring their laptop neural network to assess two matters at after.

One particular of all those is to research for drug pairs that will be more powerful antivirals with each other than either drug on its own. This thought of two medicines being more helpful in live performance is acknowledged as “drug synergy.”

The laptop also seems to be for components of a condition that the medications goal, these kinds of as proteins or genetic mutations joined to a condition. The plan powering these two techniques is that the devices can “learn” which drug cocktails may well have the most antiviral power.

In their research,revealed in the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, the MIT scientists reveal two prospective drug cocktails they located applying this approach. One particular brings together remdesivir, which the Food and drug administration by now approved to deal with COVID-19, and reserpine, a medication for higher blood force. The other pairing is remdesivir and an experimental drug named IQ-1S, one of a household of medicines applied to deal with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

These drug cocktails haven’t yet been verified helpful in opposition to COVID-19 in human trials. But the research results can aid drug developers pinpoint which combinations may well make the most feeling to take a look at as they research for new treatments.