Wednesday, July 25, 2018

‘Virtual Neurons’ Power Drug Discovery for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s

More than 50 million people are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases worldwide — a figure that’s growing as the average age of the global population rises. Yet effective treatments for nervous system disorders remain elusive due to the complexity of the human brain.

Drug development requires scientists to identify a molecule that interacts with a target protein and alters the progression of a disease. Though many researchers are hard at work to find cures for neurodegenerative disorders, it’s difficult to determine which biomarkers indicate how quickly the disease is progressing, or whether the drug is working. NeuroInitiative, a startup with operations in Florida and Massachusetts, is using GPU computing to create simulations of neural pathways — in essence, a “virtual neuron” — to help researchers test hypotheses about how a potential drug molecule will interact with the body.