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How academics are using Oracle Cloud to tackle nicotine addiction

Simulating biology through the cloud could develop customised medicine for cancer, Alzheimers and other world problems

According to the World Health Organisation, there are some 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke. At least 250 of those are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer in humans. Smoking is a true global epidemic and a leading cause of death.

Tobacco smoke is not only breathed in by those who actively smoke, but also by those in the vicinity, often without their knowledge: the elderly, the vulnerable and the young. In fact, according to the WHO, around 700 million children, or almost half of the world's total, inhale air that is polluted by tobacco smoke.

Anti-smoking drugs currently approved by health authorities have been only moderately effective. Many also cause undesirable side-effects like nausea and headaches.

Professor Adrian Mulholland, together with his team at the University of Bristol has made huge strides towards better understanding how addiction works at a molecular level. He has been using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to run complex simulations of the biochemical processes that occur when a human smokes a cigarette.

The technology allowed the team of researchers to run simulations in just four days that would have taken at least 90 days using their on-premise super-computer. Oracle’s enterprise grade cloud solution offered an extremely secure and much lower cost alternative to a process that otherwise would have been financially burdensome. 

The goal is for future market-changing research into what agents we might soon be able to develop to help people ditch their habit and create a cleaner environment for all.  If we can simulate how our biology works by using the cloud, then we can develop customised medicine for all kinds of conditions from Alzheimers to cancer and beyond. 

Of course there's still much work to be done. Nobody is claiming to have found a cure for smoking addiction. By their very nature, associations are highly complex and involve a slew of psychosocial factors that we're still working hard to understand fully.

The power of technology has fuelled progress towards helping create a world in which stopping smoking becomes a simple decision that can be executed easily.

Learn more about Oracle for Research and using Oracle Cloud in your own research here.


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