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IBM, CloudBroker Provide Cloud Power, Software for ETH Zurich Antibiotics Research

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IBM and CloudBroker, a Zurich, Switzerland-based startup, are providing cloud computing resources to researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich to support research efforts focused on developing new antibiotics for resistant bacteria.

Researchers from the institute are using IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise, which provides them with nearly 250,000 computing hours on 1,000 parallel central processing units.

CloudBroker, a spinoff from ETH Zurich, is providing the researchers with a queuing and data-management solution. The company markets a web framework and application platform that provides access to scientific and technical application software as a service, on a pay-per-use basis. Some examples of bioinformatics software that have been enabled on the platform include Rosetta, Blast, and X! Tandem.

With these resources, the team was able to identify nearly 250 "potential virulence factors" — molecules that are secreted by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or protozoa that multiply within humans — and create more than 2 million three-dimensional models with about 30,000 background data packets to study the functions of these pathogens, IBM said.

The company also said the resources provided by the two computing firms helped the researchers reduce the time required for data analysis from several months to two weeks.

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