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Innovation

Engineering better antibiotics, with help from the cloud

Swiss researchers are using high-performance cloud computing to model and develop new antibiotics to fight disease.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

The race to find the next weapons against disease continues.

Researchers from Swiss science and technology university ETH Zurich are working with high-performance cloud computing company CloudBroker to develop new antibiotics to fight disease.

The Institute of Molecular Systems Biology researchers used almost 250,000 computing hours on 1,000 parallel CPUs to conduct their research analyzing the structure of specific proteins found in streptococcus bacteria, the cause of strep throat in humans.

As a result, the researchers were able to better study the function of the pathogens, successfully identifying some 250 potential "virulence factors" -- secreted molecules that multiply. In the process, they created 2.3 million three-dimensional models with 30,000 background data packets.

The researchers used the open-source software Rosetta, which predicts and designs protein structures, protein folding mechanisms and protein-protein interactions. Use of the cloud -- specifically IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise -- allowed the researchers to crunch several months of data in two weeks' time.

"For our experiments, we need very high capacity in short time frames," lead researcher Lars Malmstrom said in a statement. "Cloud computing allows to reserve this computing capacity whenever researchers need it."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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