RoadRunner aids in genetic mapping, search for HIV vaccine

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We love HPC applications that directly touch everyday life, and you can’t get much closer than using a super to improve the lives of the tens of millions of HIV-infected people around the world (estimates vary, but are somewhere in the 30 million range). is reporting that scientists are using LANL’s RoadRunner super (currently ranked #1 on the Top500) in search for an HIV vaccine

Supporting Los Alamos National Laboratory’s role in the international Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) consortium, researchers are using the Roadrunner supercomputer to analyze vast quantities of genetic sequences from HIV infected people in the hope of zeroing in on possible vaccine target areas.

In the study samples from more than 400 HIV-infected patients were analyzed to create an evolutionary genetic family tree of the virus in the hope that they can cross-reference that with information about which patients are acutely ill to find pathways for a new vaccine

The idea, according to Korber, is to identify common features of the transmitted virus, and attempt to create a vaccine that enables recognition the original transmitted virus before the body’s immune response causes the virus to react and mutate.

…”The petascale supercomputer gives us the capacity to look for similarities across whole populations of acute patients,” said Bhattacharya. “At this scale we can begin to figure out the relationships between chronic and acute infections using statistics to determine the interconnecting branches – and it is these interconnections where a specially-designed vaccine might be most effective.