Fighting COVID-19: How a Laboratory Works to Accelerate Vaccine Development for Years
The scientists of the Argon laboratory have at their disposal a synchrotron - an accelerating complex, with which it is possible to consider things at the level of molecules and atoms. This is stated in the video "Voices of America".
“A synchrotron is a kind of microscope that works like an X-ray. With its help, we take very bright pictures with which scientists work, ”says Stephen Stryfer, acting. Director of Science and Technology of the Argon Laboratory, located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Now local scientists are using this device to quickly create a vaccine and find a cure for COVID-19. Using a synchrotron, hundreds of scientists decode virus proteins.
“It is thanks to proteins that the virus functions. If we can prevent this, we can create drugs that can fight infection, ”- said Stephen.
All data obtained in this laboratory is available to scientists and physicians around the world who are working on vaccines and medicines.
“We share our data with pharmaceutical companies and academia. This information is available to everyone, ”said Strifer.
In addition to the synchrotron, to combat coronavirus, scientists use the most powerful TETHA computers in the world available in the laboratory.
“Supercomputers are able to analyze four billion pharmacological compounds, see if they have any effect on the virus. And we can do it in a few weeks. It would take several years without supercomputers, says Stephen Strifer.
These heavy-duty computers also allow scientists to predict the extent and geography of the spread of the deadly virus.
“The computer model developed by our scientists for the city of Chicago, calculates the situation for individual groups and residents of the city, not real people, but imaginary people,” says Strifer.
“Under certain given conditions of their behavior, we predict the spread of COVID-19,” says Charles Meikall, senior systems engineer at Argon Lab.
According to a senior systems engineer at the laboratory, detailed information calculated by a supercomputer emphasizes the importance of simple but very effective things that anyone can do to curb a pandemic.
“We defined the most important thing: it is extremely important to adhere to certain behaviors, how to put on a mask, keep distance and wash your hands,” says Meikol.
The government of Illinois, in whose territory the laboratory is located, using the calculations made here, has made and continues to decide how and when to impose restrictions on how to safely return to normal life.
“We provide information directly to the governor's office. We also work closely with the leadership of Chicago. They use our information to make decisions that we hope will help keep people healthy with minimal damage to the economy, ”says Steven Stryfer.
Lab scientists are also working on ways to apply models developed for Chicago and Illinois to other cities and states in the country.
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