SAN DIEGO, June 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Nanome Inc., a virtual reality software startup, has joined Exscalate4Cov (E4C), a coordinated supercomputing project funded by the European Union (EU) Commission to screen chemical libraries for potential activity against SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19). E4C has €3 million of emergency EU funding and has already tested 9,000 drugs and bioactives, more than 100 of which have been found to be active in vitro.
At the center of the project is Exscalate—a powerful and cost-efficient supercomputing platform for drug discovery. The platform already has a "chemical library" of 500 billion molecules and a processing capacity of more than 3 million molecules per second. E4C aims to identify molecules capable of effectively targeting SARS-CoV-2 by screening existing libraries provided by pharmaceutical companies and research institutions and by searching its own database, and to develop a model for combating future pandemics. The E4C consortium is coordinated by Dompé Farmaceutici, an Italian pharmaceutical company, and consists of 18 institutions from seven European countries (including some of the most powerful supercomputer centers in Europe: CINECA, BSC, JÜLICH, and the ENI HPC5 data center). Nanome is the first US-based company to partner with E4C.
The San Diego–based startup was co-founded in 2015 by engineering students at University of California San Diego who saw a need for 3D visualization tools to help medicinal and computational chemists and structural biologists reduce their time to market and increase the efficacy of new drugs. The company will ship virtual reality headsets to selected members of the consortium and provide access to Nanome software so that they can use it to evaluate the ability of candidate molecules to bind the viral proteins in 3D. The tool will also enable collaboration in real-time and across borders (the scientists can "meet" in virtual reality).
"Exscalate is the only platform capable of exascale-ready virtual screening of billions of molecules on multiple targets in a few hours," said Silvano Coletti, the project's Innovation Manager and Managing Director of Chelonia Applied Science (one of the participants in the consortium). "Coupling this capability with Nanome software capabilities will enable us to rapidly identify drugs for immediate use as treatments and novel pan-coronavirus inhibitors that could address future emergencies."