Having vaccines developed by computer may sound unnerving but the increasing role of computer modelling in the development of new vaccines could bring new products onto the market quicker, benefiting patients and saving pharmaceutical companies millions of pounds.
Researchers using informatics and computer modelling can help scientists to uncover and harness the hidden patterns in the wealth of DNA and protein sequences that modern bioscience generates and cut the number of compounds drug companies need to test when searching for new vaccines.
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and working at the Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research are using a very simple concept to help speed up the development of vaccines. They are studying fragments of foreign proteins that have been shown by experiments to effectively trigger a response by the immune system. They look for common patterns in their sequences or structures and use the information to create a theoretical model of what is needed for one of these fragments to trigger an immune response. They can then employ computers to search for similar sequences in the thousands of sequences now available. When the search finds something promising it can be experimentally tested to see if it will trigger a response.
Matt Goode | EurekAlert!
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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