New computer techniques speed up drug research

A computer algorithm developed by bioinformaticists at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam speeds up simulations predicting the effect of drugs on the human body. This allows pharmaceutical researchers to discover new drugs more quickly.

A computer algorithm developed by bioinformaticists at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam speeds up simulations predicting the effect of drugs on the human body. This allows pharmaceutical researchers to discover new drugs more quickly. The CWI researchers presented their findings on the international RECOMB conference on Computational Biology in Barcelona this weekend.

In their search for new drugs, researchers more and more make use of computer simulations. These simulations can test a large number of molecules on their applicability as a medicine. This does not only increase the chance of finding new or better drugs,  but also prevents wasting expensive lab tests on molecules that prove to be ineffective.

To find the best drug, every molecule out of millions of candidates needs to be simulated separately. These simulations currently take a lot of time. Drug molecules often consist of a large number of atoms. To be able to perform the simulations efficiently, chemists divide every molecule in parts based on chemical properties. This is very time-intensive manual labour that takes several days per molecule.

The CWI researchers now succeeded in capturing this chemical intuition an algorithm. The algorithm uses advanced mathematical techniques to divide molecules in chemical fractions in a split second. This large time gain tremendously improves the viability of computer simulations in drug research.

CWI cooperates with chemists from the VU University Amsterdam in this research. The pharmaceutical industry has already taken a great deal of interest in the new techniques.

 

Life Sciences is one of the main research themes at CWI. On the interface between mathematics, computer science and biology, scientists develop mathematical techniques and computer models to understand complex living systems.

More information: Life Sciences group at CWI

Image: Shutterstock

 

Biomolecule

Simulation of a large biomolecule