Fujitsu, Todai harness fastest supercomputer for study of COVID-19 treatments

Fujitsu Japan has embarked on a nine-month research project using “Fugaku,” touted as the the world’s fastest supercomputer that was jointly developed with Riken, to identify small molecule inhibitory compounds that can be used as potential drugs in treatments for COVID-19.

Being conducted by a team led by Takefumi Yamashita, project associate professor of Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo, the research will also clarify the molecular mechanism by which COVID-19 infections are inhibited, leading to the eventual development of small molecule therapeutic drugs. 

Full-scale research began in June and will continue until March of 2022.

Fujitsu and RCAST will leverage IT drug discovery technology with a focus on inhibitory compound creation technology and molecular simulation technology that precisely represents the state of molecules, performing calculations on Fugaku to identify inhibitory compounds based on the dynamic behavior of viral proteins and to predict the properties of future mutations. 

By using Fugaku, molecular simulations for viral proteins and inhibitory compounds formulation can be accelerated, clarifying the complexity of binding states and interactions between viral proteins and inhibitory compounds.  The aim is to identify inhibitory compounds that can lead to therapeutic drugs at an early stage.

Going forward, Fujitsu will continue harnessing the power of supercomputers and molecular simulation technologies as it strives to quickly deliver on the promise of potential therapies for COVID-19 with its joint research alongside RCAST’s Yamashita.

Since 2011, Fujitsu has been engaged in joint research with RCAST on IT drug discovery technologies to create candidate small molecule compounds for anticancer drugs and other therapies. 

While a number of highly effective vaccines have been successfully developed in response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of effective therapeutic drugs remains an important priority. 

Based on results of joint efforts so far, Fujitsu and RCAST have decided to embark on a new intensive research project to identify inhibitory compounds that will lead to the development of new coronavirus drugs.