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VERTEX INSTALLS SUPERCOMPUTER TO SPEED DRUG DISCOVERY.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated has installed a new supercomputer cluster, one of the most powerful in the world dedicated to drug design applications. This cluster performs parallel computations using proprietary software and broad in-house modeling expertise that supports Vertex's structural biology, combinatorial chemistry, medicinal chemistry, high throughput screening, bioinformatics, and pharmacology groups. The supercomputer also provides a powerful tool for analyzing complex data and information generated using industry-leading cell-based assays and ultra-high throughput screening approaches. The new cluster represents a key component of the technology infrastructure that is expected to accelerate productivity in Vertex's gene family-based research.

"Over the past several years, the availability of high performance computing resources has played a key role in enabling Vertex to design drug candidates directed at novel, biologically complex targets," said Mark Murcko, Ph. D, chief technology officer at Vertex. "Our current pipeline, which includes one drug on the market and twelve in clinical development, represents a realization of early investments to develop innovative computational approaches to drug discovery. The new cluster provides increased power and scalability as we expand our chemogenomics platform to support parallel drug design in multiple gene families."

The new supercomputer cluster was created for Vertex by Blackstone Computing (formerly Blackstone Technology Group), a leader in software and services for optimal life science computing. The initial installation will consist of 56 computers and 112 computing processors (933 MHz Pentium(R) III) providing approximately 110 gigaflops (110 billion floating point operations per second) at theoretical peak computing power, which is approximately five times faster than Vertex's current supercomputer cluster. The system is de signed to be scalable, and will allow further expansion to 450 computers an d 900 processors to keep pace with Vertex's computing needs. A distinguishing feature of the new cluster is a high-speed, low-latency interconnect, which guarantees rapid information exchange between processors and enhances the solution of complex numerical simulations.

"We're proud to work with Vertex, a company with a proven ability to integrate parallel computation technology into the drug discovery process," said Brian Ritchie, president and CEO of Blackstone Computing. "Blackstone is committed to helping companies such as Vertex enhance their success by providing powerful computational infrastructures that serve scientific and business objectives."

Parallel computation is playing an increasingly important role in integrated drug discovery by allowing dramatically accelerated screening of large computer-generated chemical libraries, enhanced capabilities in the measurement of protein-inhibitor interactions in silico and increased power to analyze complex data sets from high throughput screening. The identification an d selection of potent lead drug candidates through analysis of molecular dynamics can also be facilitated through parallel computation.

Vertex has developed a substantial library of proprietary software and algorithms that can harness the power of parallel computation for the purposes of small molecule drug design, including in silico screening techniques t hat predict pharmacological properties of candidate drugs such as bioavailability, toxicity, half-life, and blood-brain barrier penetration; molecular modeling and ligand docking algorithms that help to identify promising chemical classes of inhibitors; and quantitative structure activity relationship (QSAR) approaches that help to optimize leads based on novel functions that are fit to experimental data. Vertex's software development efforts are now being expanded in the area of gene families, with novel applications that enable analysis of a chemical library for selectivity among clusters of similar protein targets, and comparison of multiple libraries based on a single protein target.

Drug Discovery in Gene Families

Vertex is pioneering the field of chemogenomics, which represents the inter section of medicinal chemistry and the human genome, the universe of all the possible drugs that can be directed at all of the possible drug targets. With the insight that genes and the proteins they encode can be grouped as families according to structural similarity, Vertex is designing drugs in parallel for multiple targets in gene families. In July 2001, Vertex acquired Aurora Biosciences, providing Vertex with industry-leading assay development, screening and cell biology technologies that are expected to enhance Vertex's capabilities in new gene families.

About Vertex

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated is a global biotechnology company. Vertex seeks to discover, develop, and commercialize major pharmaceutical products independently and with partners. Chemogenomics, Vertex's proprietary, systematic, genomics- based platform, is designed to accelerate the discover y of new drugs and to expand intellectual property coverage of drug candidate compounds and classes of related compounds. Vertex's first approved pro duct is Agenerase(R) (amprenavir), an HIV protease inhibitor, which Vertex co-promotes with GlaxoSmithKline. Vertex has 12 drug candidates in development to treat viral diseases, inflammation, cancer, autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders.

About Blackstone Computing

Blackstone Computing provides software and services that create optimal high throughput computing environments that accelerate life science discovery research. For information, visit http://www.blackstonecomputing.com.

For more information call 508-793-2162 ext. 3003 or visit http://www.vrtx.com.
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Comment:VERTEX INSTALLS SUPERCOMPUTER TO SPEED DRUG DISCOVERY.
Publication:Mainframe Computing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:797
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