It’s not often that you hear the acronyms IBM and HIV in the same sentence, but news from Big Blue is that the company is working with the University of Edinburgh on a research project to use supercomputing simulations combined with lab experiments to speed the design of drugs aimed at inhibiting infection by the HIV virus.
This project gives the Blue Gene supercomputer another chance to flex its muscles and, I’m told, combines a new experimental characterisation aimed at targeting the infection process itself.
Now I’m no medical specialist, but if I had time to daydream development dilemmas a little more I think I could see how sophisticated algorithms coupled with experimental techniques could improve molecular therapies.
That said, when I was in Poole General Hospital for a broken ulna and radius I did sit there thinking about how technology could be better used to help me. My drip ran out in the middle of the night and there was no system to tell the night nurse that I had started to double up in pain. How about an RFID tag connected to a pager (or something) so he knew who was running out of what and where and at what time..? Y’know?
In fairness – they already spin so many plates and looked after me so well, I am not complaining.
IBM’s project is focused on how the human HIV-1 virus attaches to cells in the body and injects its genetic material. Researchers are examining a fragment of the surface protein of the virus, known as a peptide, which is crucial in stimulating the body’s immune response to viral attack. Understanding the structure and behavior of the peptide will allow for multiple drugs to be designed simultaneously capable of targeting the infection process.
More power to them I say.