JEDI GRANDCHALLENGE: Billion Molecules against Covid-19

Date/Deadline: 03 Jun, 2020

The Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI) is the initiative for disruptive innovation to bring Europe in a leadership position in breakthrough technologies. It is powered by 3.700 leaders of Europe’s deeptech ecosystem in 23 countries. JEDI is launching Tech GrandChallenges to push the frontiers of innovation, with a radical method based on excellence, no geographical return, speed, highest expectations & bold risk-taking. Driven by humanistic values, a purpose-driven approach to solve major societal issues in environment/healthcare/digital/space through innovation. For this Covid-19 Challenge we are operating on a worldwide level, not just Europe.

The big problem to solve
It is critical to rapidly identify molecules/peptides/proteins that can block the development and/or spreading of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and stop Covid-19 related disease. Computational methods (in silico) can quickly screen interactions of existing compounds with Covid-19 targets, but novel methods are needed to get high success rates in the (pre-)clinical phases. In addition, experimental validation of lead compounds is needed to benchmark the in silico hits.

The GrandChallenge
Screen billion possible molecular compounds that can block SARS-CoV-2

Improve (in silico or others) methods to identify compounds with blocking interactions relevant to any SARS-CoV-2 target, by optimising/accelerating the use of HPC (High Performance Computing), Artificial Intelligence, and provide experimental validation.

The GrandChallenge will proceed in three stages, where stage 1 and 2 are sequential and stage 3 is independent. Teams can participate in only one or in multiple stages. The aim is to get high-quality lead compounds for multiple SARS-CoV-2 targets by cross-checking multiple simulation approaches. The top-scoring compounds will be analysed experimentally using direct affinity assays, as well as viral assays on live SARS-CoV-2. A special prize will be awarded for reduction of the yield of infectious virus by > 2-log in cell culture using novel cocktails of already FDA-approved drugs/compounds at sub-micromolar concentrations, and proven effectiveness in an animal model at physiologically relevant doses. All findings will be quickly and publicly shared with the world to battle Covid-19. This challenge is open to any team in the world, requiring breakthrough approaches in computational method and rapid experimental screening. Collaboration of teams in computation, drug development, virology, and clinical models will be necessary.

The uniqueness of this JEDI GrandChallenge is to push for (i) modelling a number of active molecules at a scale never seen before (ii) the determination of a highly accurate list of active compounds cross-correlated by the teams all over the world, (iii) ultra fast-track in-vitro identification of molecules with 2-log reduction in viral activity and (iv) identifying the best drug-cocktail out of existing FDA-approved molecules.

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