Portsmouth: Transalis adds weight to global COVID-19 study

Leading UK cloud solutions firm Transalis has added its weight to a worldwide research effort to combat COVID-19 with computer power.

The Portsmouth-based specialist in supply chain automation is lending spare ‘number crunching’ capacity from available cycles on its main servers.

Team members are doing so as they believe better science enables better diagnostics, better understanding of disease spread and progression, and a faster path to a vaccine.

To support scientific efforts against COVID-19 and other virus threats, Transalis is donating the spare computing resources in its UK datacentres to the Rosetta@home project.

Run by the University of Washington, Rosetta@home leverages computing resources donated by individuals and organisations around the world to run computer simulations to predict the atomic-scale structure of important coronavirus proteins.

Now, some of Transalis’ extensive computing infrastructure which supports retailers and suppliers world-wide will also be used to help scientists search for a cure.

The hope is that this knowledge will then inform the development of potential therapeutic and diagnostic medicines.

John Chrysanthou, Transalis infrastructure manager, said: “Rosetta@home is a great opportunity to crowdsource and leverage unused processing capacity in the fight against Covid-19.

“Our servers already run 24/7, enabling businesses and organisations worldwide to automate their financial and administrative transactions and reduce the need for costly management of paper documentation and associated errors.

“We have the agility to power up and share any unused capacity to contribute to the Rosetta research while protecting all the essential processor speed that supports our clients.

“We are delighted to be doing our bit to help expedite the data processing. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the answers to Covid-19 more quickly.”

The focus of Rosetta@home is to model the structure of a ‘spike protein’. This is what happens in the lungs when a protein on the surface of the virus binds to a receptor protein on a lung cell to generate the first phase of infection in the body.

To develop therapeutic antibodies, scientists need a better understanding of the shapes and movements of the proteins, and how they interact with each other and mutate.

A huge amount of processing power is required to build the computational models required.

The University of Washington link is one of a range of academic relationships fostered by Transalis.

Closer to home, the company operates a graduate recruitment programme in partnership with the University of Portsmouth.

And last year, Transalis championed and promoted a major University of Portsmouth research report on the management of product returns which currently cost the retail sector £60 billion a year.

Transalis’ cloud-based supply chain solutions help facilitate the exchange of around 40 million virtual documents a year, underpinning more than £3b of commercial trade in a myriad of business sectors across 32 countries.