Pinpoint accuracy: Graz researchers develop technology for precise assessment of the danger of viral variants


Author: Martin Walpot

One of the greatest difficulties in combating viral infectious diseases is the excellent adaptability of viruses. Especially with of SARS-CoV-2 new variants are quickly and constantly forming, bringing different properties with them. That’s why it’s important that in the future it will be crucial to predict more quickly and precisely how dangerous a virus can become.


Scientists from Innophore, in collaboration with colleagues from the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) and the University of Graz, are now presenting a new artificial intelligence-based technology that reliably classifies the dangerousness of virus variants. To this end, global and local data, such as from wastewater samples that are quickly and comprehensively tested for excreted viruses, are incorporated into the calculations. The results of the collaboration, which draws on the simulation power of Amazon Web Services, were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports from the publication house Nature.

Previous classification systems of virus variants required a lot of time. The scientists now use point cloud technology for this purpose. In the first step, structural models of the most current virus variants are created. From these models, the researchers calculate so-called point clouds. These give us information about how strongly the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (RBD) interacts with the human receptor hACE2. This in turn is an important indicator of infectivity.

A key advantage of point cloud technology is also that the method is based on artificial intelligence and trained with large data sets. This increases accuracy and improves the reliability of predictions. The incorporation of simulation power from Amazon Web Services additionally increases the speed of the calculations performed by Innophore many times over. The collaboration between the two companies was established as part of the Diagnostics Development Initiative (DDI) and has grown into a stable cooperation.



Note: This article is based on the following press release between Innophore, University of Graz and acib GmbH:

Foto: Innophore