UBC postdoc uses cloud computing to find over 100,000 new RNA viruses.

A reanalysis of all publicly accessible RNA sequencing data was used by the scientists to make the breakthrough discovery. There is a global database of RNA viruses that might be used to quickly discover virus spillover into humans and to identify viruses that damage livestock, crops, and threatened animals.

The Serratus Project, led by Dr. Artem Babaian, has published groundbreaking findings in the prominent scientific journal Nature.

According to Dr. Babaian, the Serratus Project was able to develop a “ridiculously powerful” supercomputer using the Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC), a public-private partnership between UBC and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Babaian’s name is Dr. Artem Babaian.

Gene sequence data from more than 5.7 million biological samples throughout the world was processed by the supercomputer to find a gene that indicated the existence of an RNA virus. Over the course of 13 years, researchers from around the world have gathered and exchanged samples, which comprise anything from ice cores to animal excrement.

The Serratus Project discovered 132,000 RNA viruses, compared to just 15,000 previously known. Nine novel coronavirus species were found.

According to Dr. Babaian, it would take a standard supercomputer more than a year and a half and tens of thousands of dollars to complete this analysis without the Cloud Innovation Center. For $24,000, Serratus completed the task in 11 days.

A new era of comprehending the genetic and geographical diversity of viruses in nature and how a wide variety of species interact with these viruses is beginning. When SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, emerged again, we hoped we wouldn’t be taken off guard. These viruses are easier to spot and easier to track down in their native habitats. As a Banting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Babaian aims to identify these infections early enough to prevent them from becoming pandemics.

Patients who appear with a fever of unknown origin can now be linked to a far larger database of known viruses once their blood has been sequenced. Patients in St. Louis who appear with a viral infection of unknown origin can now search the database in about two minutes and trace that virus to, say, a camel in Sub-Saharan Africa sampled in 2012,” the article states. “

Until the COVID-19 epidemic struck, Dr. Babaian, 32, was performing cancer genetic research with BC Cancer.

“It started as a fun side project,” Dr. Babaian tells the Vancouver Sun. He and his climbing companion friend, UBC engineering student Jeff Taylor, sketched up the idea on “the backside of a napkin.”

Afterward, he mused, “I should have saved that napkin.

While climbing British Columbia’s Serratus Mountain in 2020, Dr. Babaian was inspired to name the Serratus project after the mountain, which he and Taylor saw from the summit.

While sitting in his wife’s nursing chair, Dr. Babaian was able to see Serratus’ first results flash up on his laptop, demonstrating that Serratus was working and producing data almost incomprehensibly quickly.

This was, he added, “perhaps the most thrilling era of my scientific life.” “Fun comes in two flavors. People of Type 1 tend to be happy and up for an adventure. Type 2 is when you’re unpleasant while doing it, but the memory of it still shines. For example, rock climbing is a type of activity that falls under this category. Serratus is a lot of Type 2 fun. There’s a certain amount of faith you must have in order to succeed.

UBC’s Cloud Innovation Centre, according to Dr. Babaian, would not have been able to help him with this project.

We were able to get into the building because of the Cloud Innovation Centre, he claimed. Our idea was brought to reality with the help of their connections. All of this previously untapped research is now available to the entire audience.”

When we first met with Artem, he had a novel idea in mind. Marianne Schroeder, director of the Cloud Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia, explains the center’s power: “We link our in-house innovation and technology teams from UBC with those from Amazon Web Services.” As a technology company, we’re always looking for new ways to help solve complicated challenges, and it was an honor to be a part of this project’s success.

Community health and well-being are the focus of the Center, which was inaugurated in January 2020, just in time for the flu pandemic. The team has already published more than 20 open source projects, including reference architectures and deployment instructions.

Despite Amazon Web Services’ 15-year head start in the public cloud space, Coral Kennett, the director of the Centre for Amazon Web Services, believes that the company’s recent innovations have opened up new doors for genomics research. When Artem asked for computational power, we were able to provide it for pennies a query. “More innovation for the community can be found by submitting your projects and ideas to the Cloud Innovation Centre,” says the research community.

Reference: https://www.med.ubc.ca/news/ubc-postdoc-identifies-over-100000-new-rna-viruses-using-the-power-of-cloud-computing/

UBC Postdoc Identifies Over 100,000 New RNA Viruses Using the Power Of Cloud Computing. (2022, January 26). UBC Faculty of Medicine. https://www.med.ubc.ca/news/ubc-postdoc-identifies-over-100000-new-rna-viruses-using-the-power-of-cloud-computing/.