EXSCALATE4CoV. New project to fight the spread of Coronavirus has been approved

Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste, as a member of a consortium, has won a tender invited by the European Commission for a project to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
The EXSCALATE4CoV (E4C) project was submitted in the second half of February after the European Commission invited urgent tenders. The public-private consortium comprises 18 beneficiaries from seven EU countries. The Italian partners also include Cineca, a supercomputing centre, the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases as well as the project coordinator Dompé Farmaceutici S.p.A.
E4C has a twofold objective:
  • identify molecules effective against COVID-19
  • develop and consolidate an effective tool to counter future viral epidemics.
The project is based on a platform called EXSCALATE (EXaSCale smArt pLatform Against paThogEns), currently the most powerful and efficient smart supercomputing platform in the world, developed by Dompé Farmaceutici.

The EXSCALATE4CoV project will leverage the most powerful computing resources presently available in Europe to promote the development of smart drug design.
E4C will have two highly interconnected workstreams of activities. One will rely on bioinformatic and chemoinformatic technologies and algorithms, while the second will be focused on a genomic, biochemical and biological approach.

Elettra will provide its contribution to rational design of novel molecules to be used as potential drugs by applying structural biology tools to validate virtual models built by the EXSCALATE platform. Elettra’s structural biology laboratory and the XRD1 and XRD2 beamlines devoted to bio-crystallography will be working on the identification of the structures of proteins that are targets for potential drugs. More specifically, Elettra’s work does not involve the use of viruses or potentially pathogenic viral particles. It will exclusively focus on the use of recombinant proteins. Such proteins are similar to those currently analysed at Elettra with the outstanding scientific expertise that makes its significant contribution so relevant to the project. Therefore, the proteins concerned will be crystallised and structurally analysed to study their properties when binding the molecules screened as potential drugs, in order to understand the sites and the ways of interaction, thus ultimately identifying the treatment methods that are potentially most effective in fighting COVID-19.
The Elettra team includes Paola Storici who will lead the project together with Annie Heroux and Maurizio Polentarutti, the XRD2 and XRD1 beamline managers, and Federica Mantovani from the Industrial Liaison Office. 

EXSCALATE4CoV is considered a pilot project that will provide a foundation for future medium-term activities to counter the COVID-19 spread, but also other future infectious disease-related emergencies.

Press Release

  • APREmagazine N.13 June 2020: "Il progetto Exscalte4Cov: leadership italiana nel progetto europeo di urgent computing per trovare un trattamento  contro il coronavirus" pdf
  • APREmagazine N.13 June 2020:  "Come Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste combatte il COVID con la ricerca" intervista a Paola Storici, project leader di Exscalate4Cov presso Elettra e Federica Mantovani dell'Industrial Liason Office. pdf
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 October 2020 14:36