With its unprecedented power to quickly analyze vast amounts of data and simulate molecular interactions, quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize the process of drug discovery and development.
The goal of technological advancement is to produce more with fewer resources. Even if technology has progressed from a room-sized computer to a cell phone, there are still many challenges that the world’s powerful computers can help with. We’ll soon need to accomplish our computing in a whole different method when smaller, more potent computers become necessary. Quantum theory, a subfield of Physics, studies the universe of atoms and the smaller (subatomic) particles that reside inside of them. But the laws of classical physics don’t apply in that little universe of atoms. “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” said Richard Feynman. Therefore, the most popular but also most challenging field nowadays is quantum computing.
Today’s computers are made of silicon transistors and use bits of computation. These bits take either of the two values 0 or 1. Instead of bits, a quantum computer has qubits. Qubits can exist in a multidimensional state. Qubits use superpositions to represent multiple states. As a result, a quantum computer can perform multiple operations in parallel, which makes it significantly faster than a traditional computer.
Quantum Computing Advantages
Although designing, building, and programming a quantum computer can be challenging, there are certain advantages as well when compared with the supercomputer. So, what can it be used for?
- Molecular Modelling: Quantum computing uses a variety of computerized techniques to predict the chemical and biological properties of molecules using theoretical chemistry methodologies and experimental data. These techniques are utilized in computational chemistry, drug design, computational biology, and materials science.
- Database Searching: Quantum computers are used to store and search through massive amounts of data in a much quicker time than traditional computers.
- Data Security: In the future, quantum computing may play a significant role in network and cyber security.
- Weather Forecast: Quantum computing will assist in improving local and global weather forecasting for more advanced and precise warnings of extreme weather occurrences, potentially saving lives and lowering annual property damage.
Quantum Computing: Metamorphosis in Drug Discovery
The drug development process is complicated, costly, and time-consuming, with several stages and regulatory approval. To identify and validate drugs, research must adhere to the strictest safety and quality standards. While technology has advanced at a breakneck pace, the discovery and design of novel therapies is an increasingly difficult endeavor. But identifying previously unknown molecules and drugs has become more difficult, and every avenue that could speed up or improve the process must be explored. Quantum computers could outperform any supercomputer and it is emerging as the next frontier in pharmaceutical research.
Quantum computers use qubits, which can either be on or off, or both – known as the super-position. This superposition enables quantum computers to execute multiple calculations simultaneously, far more effectively than conventional technology. In the drug discovery process, quantum computing ensures accurate data projections while taking into account a wide range of biological parameters at the same time.
According to the experts in drug development, quantum computational tools may add value for designing and developing antibodies, by creating a novel antibody structure. Integrating the quantum algorithms with the classical tools available today may happen naturally while building the expertise and strategizing to solve the problem. By taking the advantage of various algorithms, hybrid algorithms, and approaches the best quantum tool can be decided to best suit the purpose.
There are numerous potential quantum applications on the horizon. It is expected to play a significant role in drug discovery, speeding up processes for testing and synthesizing chemicals for use in medicine, among other applications. Revolution in the bio-medical imaging sector can transform the detection and diagnosis in the advancement of new drug development.
Biogen, an American biotechnology firm, is testing quantum to help with the treatment of neurological diseases. To accelerate drug discovery, quantum-enabled optimization, sampling, and machine learning algorithms can be used, a report from The Quantum Insider. Boehringer Ingelheim, a Google Quantum AI partner for the past three years, is another pharmaceutical company pioneering quantum computing to accelerate and optimize the healthcare services and solutions. Their goal is to develop innovative and cutting-edge new medicines in the future.
Harnessing the power of quantum mechanics is a difficult and delicate task, and there are still many obstacles to overcome. Qubits are delicate and to maintain them in superposition and entanglement, a secure environment is required. If the qubits are not maintained in extreme conditions, then the entire quantum operation is futile. With growing interest and innovations, new applications and products will inevitably emerge. The quantum upheaval could introduce a period of new explorations that surpasses existing perspectives. It’s evident that quantum computing has the possibility to change the way medicine is discovered.