A group of researchers tries to capture in a mathematical model the behavior of different human cells and that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, causing the current pandemic. The objective is study the structure of the model, identify possible vulnerabilities and predict treatments.

It is a project in which they participate Jorge Júlvez and Alex Oargaresearchers of the I3A (Institute of Research in Engineering of Aragon), in the Zaragoza’s University, and which is led by researcher Bridget Bannerman of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge.

Júlvez is part of the DiSCo Group, R&D in Distributed Computing. In this project for advance knowledge of SARS-CoV-2, his work focuses on the development of this mathematical model, which allows for a structural and dynamic analysis, “With which we can formulate hypotheses and perform simulations very quickly and compare it with the previous virus SARS-CoV”, Explain.

Work in progress focuses on the study of the metabolic network of cells, the analysis of the reactions that form said network, and the evaluation of the impact that the entrance of the virus has on its behavior, “Are mathematical models that serve to analyze, evaluate and predict the behavior of the system formed by the cell and the virus”Júlvez points out.

This I3A researcher tells that they are trying to create a mathematical model that includes reactions of the human cells that the coronavirus needs to reproduce. Therefore, they study different types of cells to see how the entry of SARS-CoV-2 affects them, and to know how their behavior changes.

The investigation is in an exploratory phase, so remember that you have to be “very cautious because the predictions of this mathematical model have to be verified in the laboratory.” But, they know that knowing how cells and viruses interact, some reactions could be neutralized to avoid the reproduction of the virus in the cell and act without damaging it. To date, a dozen reactions have been identified that could serve as a target for drug development and the aim is to extend the model in order to estimate the effect of possible treatments.

More information: https://i3a.unizar.es