Stage 1 Of The JEDI Billion Molecules Against Covid-19 GrandChallenge Launches On May 4th

  • The Joint European Disruptive Initiative is launching on a global basis the JEDI Billion Molecules against Covid19 GrandChallenge. The Stage 1 of this unique, concrete, impact-driven competition will run for 33 days until June 6.

  • Open to the best scientific & technology teams in the world, it has one objective: screen billions of molecules with blocking interactions on SARS-CoV-2, and ultra-fast-track the route to a therapeutic treatment, which is, with the development of a vaccine, the only exit from the current global crisis.

  • Stage 1 is a real moonshot: instead of testing individual molecules –what is happening all over the world - the participant teams will, at a scale never seen before, screen enormous molecular libraries against protein targets of the virus,using supercomputing and AI. Results will be cross-correlated to determine a “high potential” list of unprecedented quality, allowing a fast track to clinical testing. Overall time to find active compounds reliably will be massively shorter as compared tocurrent methods.

  • Already before the start of the JEDI GrandChallenge, more than 45 teamsfrom the best research institutions, biotechsand corporates have pre-registeredto participate, a particularly strong mobilization to solve a very hard problem.

The scientific uniqueness of this JEDI GrandChallenge is :

  1. to model a number of active molecules at a scale never seen before,

  2. determine a highly accurate list of active compounds cross-correlated by the best teams in the world,

  3. push for ultra-fast-track in-vitroidentification of molecules with 99% reduction in viral activity,

  4. identify the best drug-cocktailout of existing FDA-approved molecules.

In research against Covid-19, the approach by JEDI is radically different:

  • It is the first time in Europe that a DARPA-type Challenge is launched: with its methodology based on excellence, bold risk-taking,a complete absence of bureaucratic constraints, and precise metrics for success, we aim for major breakthroughs.

  • We are convinced that scientific discoveries will come from making different disciplines working together: structural biology, virology, molecular simulations, AI and machine learning, high-throughput screening, and rapid experimental testing.

  • The JEDI Billion Molecules against Covid19 GrandChallenge is focused on near-term breakthroughs with results shared with the world, in the spirit of Open Science.

  • The GrandChallenge has been built to bedeeply integratedand complementary to other global efforts like Folding@home, and many others.

In just 4 weeks, JEDI has secured the first funding partners, AXA Research Fund and Merck, as well as strategic partnerships with major organizations: Academic as well as industrialteams will have access to massive computing power as well as first-rate compound library and scientific tools. JEDI has brought together an exceptional Scientific Committee with 17 renowned scientists from Europe, Asia and the Americas, including the 2019 Nobel prize in Medicine.

Andre Loesekrug-Pietri, Director of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative, underlines ‘Thiscrisis of historical proportions is a strong confirmation of JEDI's vision for much bolder anticipation, interdisciplinarity, massive agility and a radical new approach to innovation. We are bringing our contribution in the fight against the virus, and excited that JEDI is launching the first-ever DARPA-type challenge in Europe at the intersection of high-performancecomputing, molecular biology and machine-learning’.

Thomas Hermans, Program Manager of the #JEDICovid19Challenge, adds: ‘It is great to see that scientists are bundling forces in an unprecedented manner, sharing data and experimentsat a global scale. This Challenge builds on thecollective knowledge of the best teams in computational drug discovery, and addsrapid experimental validation,to find new or existing compounds to block SARS-CoV-2, in record time’

About JEDI

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 Technology & Scientific GrandChallenges to push the frontiers of innovation, with a radical method based on excellence, no geographical return,speed, highest expectations & bold risk-taking. JEDI is driven by humanistic values,a purpose-driven approach to solve major societal issues in environment & energy, healthcare, digital and new frontiers (space and oceans) through innovation. Europe needs a strong change to stay in the race and affirm its values.

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About the AXA Research Fund

The AXA Research Fundwas born out of the belief that science plays a crucial role in responding to the most important issues facing our planet today. AXA’s scientific philanthropy initiative is committed tosupporting science contributing to societal progress and encouraging researchers to share their work and inform decision making. The AXA Research Fund supports projects in the risk areas of climate and the environment, health and socioeconomics. With 250 Million Euros committed since its inception in 2007, the Fund has supported over 650 projects to date, in 300 leading academic institutions.

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