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Supercomputers Could Speed Up Cancer Drug Development X6.

November 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Health, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comSeveral Bay area scientists, who are Members of the accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine organization at the Lawrence Livermore national Cancer Laboratory believe that computers could move the time-frame for developing new cancer drugs from six years to just one.

If this is true, it could be great news for the one in four people who die from cancer each year in the United States alone.

These researchers, who are working in conjunction with big pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline and the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick National Laboratory, are working hard to develop supercomputers that can decimate the amount of time it takes to screen possible drugs so that they are fit for human trials. This might seem like a pipe dream, but with things like preclinical imaging and augmented reality already helping to speed up training, development and diagnosis, it probably isn’t so unlikely. The consortium working to bring this project to fruition certainly think it’s doable.

$750,000 Annually

Aedin Culhane of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is particularly optimistic, stating that although doing this would have been little more than a pipe dream just a decade ago, the technological landscape has now changed so much that it is more likely to happen than not.

Not only that but Helen Diller of the  Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of San Francisco, who are also part of the project, revealed that the college is ploughing $750,000 into research and space in the lab each year. It is unlikely that they would do this if they didn’t really think they were onto something.


Not only that, but GlaxoSmithKline are allowing access to data surrounding around 2 million molecules that have potential for use as cancer drugs, 500 of which previously did not make it through the development process. All of this data, combined with more powerful computers and expert algorithms are set to change the face of cancer research and get rid of many of the barriers – time being the biggest one – preventive medicine that could help to improve the quality of life, and even saved, countless people each and every year.

A Drawn-Out Process

The main reason why cancer drugs being available currently takes so long is because molecules need to be tested extensively for every possible outcome. Right now, this takes huge amounts of time, money and resources, but if a supercomputer could simply be programmed to understand the complex relationships between molecules and compounds, well then it could work out if a solution was viable ins seconds rather than weeks, which would help to cut the total time from development to delivery by as many as five years!

The group working towards just that now believe that computing power is finally sufficient to where they can use it for those purposes, and although it may still take a good few years for them to perfect this technology and see real results, it is, in their minds at least, only a matter of time before we’re getting those much-needed drugs in an amazingly short time.

Staff Writer; Lisa Shaw

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