February 28, 2021

HRD, S&T ministries launch ‘Drug Discovery Hackathon’ to develop anti-COVID drug

New Delhi: Science and Expertise Minister Harsh Vardhan and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Thursday launched a ‘Drug Discovery Hackathon’ challenge and invited college students and researchers to take part within the train, aimed toward creating an anti-COVID drug.

This hackathon is a first-of-its-kind nationwide initiative for supporting the drug discovery course of and can see participation of execs, college, researchers and college students from various fields like Pc Science, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Medical Sciences, Fundamental Sciences and Biotechnology, an announcement by the Ministry of Science and Expertise mentioned.

The initiative is being collectively carried out by the ‘MHRD’s Innovation Cell (MIC)’, All India Council for Technical Training (AICTE) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Analysis (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Expertise.

It is usually supported by the Centre for Improvement of Superior Computing (CDAC), MyGov in addition to personal gamers.

The train consists of challenges which might be posted as downside statements (problem that must be addressed) and are primarily based on particular drug discovery subjects, that are open to contributors to resolve.

A complete of 29 downside statements (PS) have been recognized.

Professionals and researchers from internationally can take part within the hackathon, which may have three tracks.

The primary observe will primarily cope with drug design.The second observe will cope with designing, optimising new instruments and algorithms, which may have an immense influence on expediting the method of in-silico drug discovery.

There’s additionally a 3rd observe referred to as “Moon shot”, which permits for engaged on issues which might be ‘out of the field’ in nature.

The entire train is to be accomplished by April-Might subsequent 12 months.

Vardhan harassed the necessity to set up the tradition of computational drug discovery within the nation.

Computational drug discovery is a technique for accelerating and economising drug discovery and growth course of.

“On this initiative, MHRD’s Innovation Cell and AICTE will concentrate on figuring out potential drug molecules by means of the hackathon, whereas CSIR will take these recognized molecules ahead for synthesis and laboratory testing for efficacy, toxicity, sensitivity and specificity,” Vardhan mentioned.

Mentioning that drug discovery is a posh, costly, arduous and time-consuming course of, he mentioned whereas medical trials of some re-purposed medicine for COVID-19 are underway, it’s also essential to seek out different appropriate re-purposed medicine and on the similar time proceed engaged on new drug discovery to develop particular medicine in opposition to COVID-19.

“In-silico drug discovery, which utilises computational strategies akin to machine studying (ML), AI (synthetic intelligence) and Massive Information will assist in accelerating this course of,” Vardhan added.

Nishank mentioned the Ministry of Human Useful resource Improvement (MHRD) and AICTE have large expertise in organising hackathons however for the primary time, it’s utilizing a hackathon mannequin for tackling a fantastic scientific problem.

“Extra importantly, this initiative is open for researchers, college throughout the globe as we’re eager on attracting worldwide expertise to hitch and help our efforts,” he mentioned.

Prof Okay VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the federal government, mentioned the hackathon will assist India set up a brand new mannequin for expediting the drug discovery course of.

“The hackathon consists of challenges which might be posted as downside statements and are primarily based on particular drug discovery subjects, that are open to contributors to resolve.

“On the finish of every part, profitable groups will probably be rewarded. The ‘lead’ compounds recognized on the finish of the third part will probably be taken ahead for experimental-level at CSIR and different organisations,” VijayRaghavan mentioned.