Nanoparticles and supercomputers against SARS-CoV-2

Photo: Andrés Rodriguez Domingo

The research group “Innovation in Materials and Molecular Engineering – Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies” (IMEM) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), led by Carlos Aleman, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Associate Researcher at l’IBEC, will conduct a computational study for the development of SARS-CoV-2 detection platforms. 

The research is part of the project against Covid-19 promoted by B. Braun, a multinational of the hospital sector, in collaboration with the UPC, the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP) and the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC). 

To carry out the study, the association “Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe” (PRACE), whose mission is to facilitate high-impact scientific discoveries in all disciplines for the benefit of society and improve European competitiveness, has awarded the UPC group 40 million hours of the Joliot-Curie supercomputer installed in the “Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique” (CEA) in Paris, the equivalent of 4,500 years in computing hours with normal computers. 

During six months of computing, simulations on molecular recognition mechanisms will be carried out and their applications to deactivate the virus will be studied. The effect of functionalized nanoparticles on the molecular structure of SARS-CoV-2 will be explored in depth. In particular, the researchers will be able to also determine the influence of the local temperature increase achieved by activating nanosources of heat. The energy is transferred when the nanoparticles are illuminated with light of a certain wavelength and are heated thanks to the surface plasmon resonance effect, with the aim of deactivating the virus. 

Source and more info: UPC