Computational power in the fight against cancer


Institutional Communication Service

12 April 2019

Vittorio Limongelli, Associate professor at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and at the USI Institute of Computational Science (ICS), has recently received a competitive research funding consisting in the assignment of 16 million and 500 thousand hours of computation time, equivalent to about 100.000 Swiss francs, by the European research infrastructure PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) for use of the Curie supercomputer at the supercomputing centre TGCC-CCRT (Centre de Calcul Recherche et Technologie) in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France.

The funding is related to a project of Prof. Limongelli supported also by the Swiss National Research Foundation, in the field of "Drug Design", i.e. interdisciplinary research on the design of innovative and increasingly effective drugs. The project, called "High Performance Computing assists drug design in the discovery of innovative anticancer drug candidates as ligands of the shelterin protein TPP1", aims at developing new methodologies for cancer treatment.

Computational science acts as a powerful accelerator for understanding the complex laws of nature on the one hand, and the processes of designing new drugs on the other. The group of Computational Pharmacology led by Prof. Limongelli at the USI Institute of Computational Sciences deals precisely with the design of new molecules of pharmaceutical interest: metaphorically speaking, the work of researchers in this field is similar to that of the "master of keys", or the blacksmith specialising in the search for the best keys capable of opening the largest number of locks. In this sense, keys can be seen as drugs, and locks as cellular "targets" with which the drug is intended to interact.

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