How a supercomputer can help find a cure for Ebola
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2014 5:17PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 4, 2014 6:34PM EST
A Toronto-based researcher is hoping to take the guesswork out of finding a cure for Ebola, using a supercomputer to calculate how different drugs interact with the virus.
Since the ebola outbreak began in December 2013, it has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa. As the death toll continues to climb, health officials around the world are rallying to find a vaccine for the deadly disease.
To help predict which ones will likely work, Abraham Heifets and his team of scientists are calculating how different medicines can prevent Ebola from attaching itself to a healthy host cell. But they aren't working in a traditional lab. Instead they are using software to make the predictions.
"When we’re in the midst of a pandemic, we really don't have time," he told CTV Toronto.
Heifets is the CEO of Chematria, a company that delivers medicinal predictions with the help of a supercomputer. The high-tech machine -- believed to be one of the most powerful and biggest supercomputers in Canada -- has the power of tens of thousands of laptops combined.
"It's one of the biggest pieces of computer equipment ever in the history of the human species,” he said. “It means that we can evaluate millions of molecules a day which is much faster than you can do using test tubes."
There are no approved vaccines for Ebola yet. An experimental Canadian-made vaccine is one of the leading contenders in a race to develop a tool that will stop the deadly epidemic.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding