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Austrians as finalists in the biggest programme searching for drugs against COVID-19

Innophore team © Innophore

Drugs are the focus of a stable path out of a global crisis. In particular, the search in the GrandChallenge is particularly on new drugs with a strong impact on the essential target proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Participants were asked to validate at least one billion molecules on the basis of three different calculation methods. Artificial intelligence and digital medicine are playing an important role in the process.

"130 teams consisting of more than 500 scientists at the best institutions across the globe screened more than 54 billion molecules. The VirtualFlow Team with scientists from Austria (Innophore, University of Graz and acib), the USA (Harvard, DFCI, Google and University of California, Berkeley), Germany (Max-Planck-Institute and the Berlin University of Technology) and the Ukraine (Enamine and Chemspace) are now among the finalists and are competing with the few other remaining drug discovery teams to win the prestigious COVID-19 GrandChallenge organised by the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI), the European equivalent of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). It is interesting to observe the fact that only team submitting drug proposal with real potential to treat COVID9 were chosen to take part in the round of finalists", emphasizes Prof. Thomas Hermans, Programme Manager of the JEDI Covid19 GrandChallenge.

"878 of the new substances proving to be promising in the computer experiments and which have not been used up until now against COVID-19 were synthesized and are now being experimentally investigated in test tubes and directly on living cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. These analyses are being carried out in independent, high-security laboratories in Germany, France and the USA. Several of them have come from our JEDI team and are now being published as open science in the specialised media", explains Georg Steinkellner, CTO of Innophore. "Being accepted in the finals is an important milestone for Innophore, a further proof-of-principle for our patented CatalophoreTM AI technology and last but not least, a great honour, says Christian Gruber, CEO of the Graz-based, high-tech firm.

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