WAAY31 learned how cutting edge technology may put Alabama at the forefront of the race to find a remedy for coronavirus.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are partners in the hunt for chemicals to stop the virus that has impacted all our lives for the last several weeks.
UAH biological science Professor Dr. Jerome Baudry says he has a unique opportunity to help find ways to attack the coronavirus. Baudry says a supercomputer will help fast track the process.
"What we're trying to do here is trying to predict what chemicals could bind, could actually prevent the virus from doing what it's supposed to do," Baudry said.
Baudry says the coronavirus invades human cells after targeting certain proteins. He is now looking for natural products, or chemicals from things like plants, fungi, or animals, that can stop it.
"It could be a cure, it could be a treatment, it could be a remedy, it could be a single molecule, it could a mixture of molecules," Baudry said.
The research process is getting a huge boost thanks to a partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. They will use a supercomputer, that can calculate data as fast as the earth's entire population doing 20,000 calculations every second. Baudry says it makes finding the needle in the haystack easier.
"Reduce the size of the haystack so much, that we can tell our colleagues well instead of going blindly and screening one million chemicals, you should focus on these 500, and we're fairly sure most of the needles will be in that little part of the haystack," Baudry said.
The computer will be able to predict if a chemical can block proteins the coronavirus needs to infect and replicate cells. It'll help speed up the research process, but there is no timetable of how long this could take.
"It doesn't mean that next week we can expect a pill, but certainly, it will arrive much faster than it would otherwise if only some of us were working on this," Baudry said.
WAAY31 is told the chemicals will not be a vaccine, but more of a treatment method. UAH has already started its research.