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Mission coronavirus: How a supercomputer is investigating the ‘case’

NEW DELHI: The coronavirus pandemic sees no signs of slowing down. Everyday new cases are being reported with vaccines seemingly a long way off from the reach of the general public. While researchers around the world are breaking their heads over how best to tackle the virus, a supercomputer has also been tasked to investigate the coronavirus, as per a report by Techradar.
Dan Jacobson, a Computational Systems Biologist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the US and his team of experts have employed the IBM Summit supercomputer to break down the mysteries of COVID-19. As per the report, the IBM Summit was previously the world’s fastest supercomputer at over 200 petaFLOPS (as per the HPL benchmark).
The team is working on “unpicking the fundamental biology and molecular evolution of the virus, with the ultimate goal of understanding how it manifests itself in the human body and, on occasion, kills its host.”
It proposes that the “Covid-19 is in fact a vascular illness (of the veins and arteries etc.) rather than just a specific respiratory problem (of the lungs).”
Jacobson coming to this conclusion is based on the behaviour of a protein called bradykinin, responsible for the dilation of blood vessels. The researcher reportedly claims that when the coronavirus infects a human host, “activity relating to the protein is increased dramatically, far beyond regular levels”, something that he has chosen to call a “bradykinin storm”.
“This triggers a series of biological events (e.g. an increase in the permeability of blood vessels and the production of hyaluronic acid) that ultimately floods the lungs with a “gelatin-like substance”, making it harder for the sufferer to breathe.”, adds the report.
There is much work and more trials needed to confirm this theory but the researcher believes that the theory is “much more than just a promising start”.

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