Supercomputer finds 100,000+ new viruses, including nine coronaviruses

The Serratus Project used Cloud Innovation Center services to identify over 100,000 new RNA viruses, including nine coronaviruses.

Published Fri, Jan 28 2022 12:00 AM CST   |   Updated Wed, Feb 23 2022 1:33 PM CST

A new study uncovering the viruses has been published in the journal Nature.

Supercomputer finds 100,000+ new viruses, including nine coronaviruses 01 |

The Serratus Project is an international collaboration that has re-analyzed 20 million gigabytes of publicly available RNA sequencing data, which has led them to uncover almost ten times as many RNA viruses compared to what was previously known. Among those, nine new species of coronaviruses were found.

Using a supercomputer with the power of 22,500 CPUs in collaboration with the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC), data from 5.7 million biological samples over 13 years was analyzed. Within this collection, 132,000 RNA viruses were found, where only 15,000 had been previously identified. Dr. Artem Babaian, who led the research, estimated a traditional supercomputer would have taken over a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete the research. In contrast, Serratus only took 11 days and $24,000.

"We're entering a new era of understanding the genetic and spatial diversity of viruses in nature, and how a wide variety of animals interface with these viruses. The hope is we're not caught off guard if something like SARS-CoV-2-the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19- emerges again. These viruses can be recognized more easily and their natural reservoirs can be found faster. The real goal is these infections are recognized so early that they never become pandemics," said Babaian.

"If a patient presents with a fever of unknown origin, once that blood is sequenced, you can now connect that unknown virus in the human to a way bigger database of existing viruses. If a patient, for example, presents with a viral infection of unknown origin in St. Louis, you can now search through the database in about two minutes, and connect that virus to, say, a camel in sub-Saharan Africa sampled in 2012," Babaian continued.

You can read more from the study here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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