Scientists need to be better prepared for the next pandemic, warns an international team of scientists led by Prof. Władka Minora from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVA). The plan assuming the development of, inter alia, The "advanced information system" was presented in the journal "IUCrJ".
In addition to dealing with molecular physiology and biophysics, prof. Minora (graduate of the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw), the research team includes scientists from the USA, Poland and Austria.
Bearing in mind the "avalanche" of scientific data generated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. Minor and his colleagues are calling for the creation of an 'Advanced Information System' (AIS) to help integrate, monitor and evaluate the massive amounts of data that will be compiled when scientists reveal the molecular structure of another high biological hazard pathogen. Information on the shape, structure and function of the pathogen is essential for the development of new drugs, vaccines and treatments. For example, the COVID-19 vaccines currently available target the spike protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
"Structural models and other experimental results produced by different laboratories must follow a standard evaluation procedure to ensure their accuracy and compliance with accepted scientific standards," said Prof. Minor. - Standardized validation is important for all areas of the biomedical sciences, especially for structural models that are often used as a starting point in subsequent research, such as computer-controlled drug docking studies and data mining. Even seemingly insignificant errors can lead such research astray. "
An important role of an "advanced information system" would be to identify data that should be improved and improved. It is crucial that structural and other pathogen data are as accurate as possible and that scientists from different disciplines speak the same language. The proposed AIS would help ensure compliance across disciplines.
"Almost 100,000. articles related to COVID-19, and over a thousand models of macromolecules encoded by SARS-CoV-2 were established experimentally in about a year. No human can + digest + this amount of information, said Minor. 'We believe that the most promising solution to the problem of information overload and failure to search effectively is to create a sophisticated information system that can gather results from all relevant resources and present information in an informative way that promotes understanding and knowledge.'
Scientists admit that the implementation of their proposals would be a big undertaking. Other initiatives that have tried to offer similar benefits on a smaller scale have come and gone. "Creating AIS will undoubtedly require the collaboration of many scientists who are experts in their fields, but this seems to be the only way to prepare biomedical science for the next pandemic," the researchers write in a new research paper in which they present their proposal.
"In human history, the COVID-19 pandemic is relatively mild compared to the bubonic plague (black death) that killed a hundred times as many people," the authors conclude. "We might not be so lucky next time."
The authors of the publication include: David R. Cooper, Marcin Cymborowski, Marek Grabowski, Ivan G. Shabalin (University of Virginia), Joanna M. Macnar (University of Warsaw), Mirosław Gilski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), Dariusz Brzeziński, Marcin Kowiel, Mariusz Jaskóski (Department of Crystallography - Center for Biocrystallographic Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań), Zbigniew Dauter, Alexander Wlodawer (Center for Structural Biology, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, Maryland, USA), Bernhard Rupp (Institute of Genetic Epidemiology, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria). (PAP)
Author: Paweł Wernicki