Using Department of Defense supercomputers, Southwest Research Institute is virtually screening millions of drug compounds to search for and test possible treatment options for the novel coronavirus 2019. The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine Inc. (HJF) has awarded SwRI a $1.9 million, one-year contract to support these efforts to identify potential COVID-19 treatments. HJF supports COVID-19 countermeasure development at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
SwRI is working with the DOD High Performance Computing Modernization Program to rapidly screen potential drug compounds using SwRIas 3D drug screening software tool, Rhodium. Using supercomputers speeds up the screening process allowing evaluation of possible therapeutic compounds to increase from 250,000 compounds a day to more than 40 million compounds in just one week.
As a drug development tool, Rhodium helps scientists rapidly predict how protein structures in infectious diseases will bind with drug compounds to find viable candidates for development into therapies.
SwRI is also conducting laboratory screening of compounds, assessing toxicity to help filter potential treatment options. Once compounds are tested and meet the criteria set for safety and efficacy, SwRI will be involved in formulation development and production scale-up for the compounds. The Institute has previously used this process to develop drug treatment therapies for Ebola virus, malaria and other infectious diseases.
When news began to emerge about COVID-19, SwRI immediately began the search for a treatment, teaming with other...