Supercomputer catches a cold

Aussie scientists have worked out a way to simulate the common cold on a supercomputer.

The breakthrough opens up new ways to develop potentially drugs which might cure the snuffles once and for all.

Although the common cold is a nuisance for healthy people it does make lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the main focus of the researcher’s work has been to find new treatments for rhinovirus which is the cause of most colds. But it has been tricky to simulate on a computer which makes it hard to come up with a cure.

St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Professor Michael Parker, has been working with the pharmaceutical company Biota Holdings to understand the rhinovirus.

His team used a synchrotron microscope to look at the three-dimensional structure of the virus and then programmed a supercomputer to predict how the virus moves.

Biota has a drug in phase two trials which uses the data, but this will be published so scientists worldwide could use it.

Professor Parker said the simulation method could be used for other viruses including polio and meningitis.