The HIV Capsid

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh have made real progress on cracking the HIV virus using super-computing power.

The researchers used the NSCA’s Blue Waters super-computer built by Cray (composed of 6276 AMD CPUs in 276 cabinets capable of 11,610,000,000,000,000 calculations per second (11.61 quadrillion, or 11.6 petaflops)) to break the secret of the HIV ‘capsid’.

The ‘capsid’ is the protein shell of the virus, it is what protects the virus until it enters the human cells and begins the reproduce which is what makes it so virulent. Blue Waters worked day and night to analyse the interactions between every single one of the 64,000,000 (64 million) atoms that make up the HIV capsid – and has helped identify weaknesses in it’s armor which will lead to new treatments in the future.

Pharmacists will be able to use this ground-breaking data to develop drugs that can target these weaknesses and have a bigger impact on the virus whilst having less side effects on the patients taking the drugs.

This is proof, that big metal computing does lead to real results – results that will help improve the life of real people. Here’s a link to the team’s page.

All the best,




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