Vodafone UK today announced that hundreds of thousands of smartphone users across the globe have helped Imperial College London complete Phase 1 of its Corona-AI research project in only six months. This is significantly faster than would be possible with standard research methods. The Corona-AI project, which launched in April, aims to pinpoint combinations of existing drugs and food-based molecules that may help patients with COVID-19.
Researchers at Imperial College London have announced early findings from the research including the identification of molecules with anti-viral properties in everyday plant-based foods including berries (particularly blackcurrants, cranberries and blueberries), apples, oranges, lemons, cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, parsley and beans. The study also found that common drugs used to combat cardiovascular and metabolic disorders – such as simvastatin, atorvastatin and metformin – could be potentially repurposed against COVID-19. The findings will now be further analysed by the researchers, who say clinical validation is needed to assess what impact these molecules might have.
Imperial College London’s Corona-AI research project has been delivered with the help of DreamLab, an award-winning app developed by the Vodafone Foundation, originally to facilitate cancer research. DreamLab uses the collective processing power of charging smartphones to create a virtual supercomputer capable of processing hundreds of thousands of calculations, speeding up the time it takes to deliver results.
Since April, DreamLab users have had the option to power either Imperial’s cancer research project, Project DRUGS (Phase 4), exploring links between a specific drug and food molecules and cancer genomic networks, or Corona-AI Phase 1. So far, almost one million users in 17 countries have downloaded the DreamLab app to help speed up scientific research.
In Phase 1, the Corona-AI project has examined thousands of existing drug and food molecules, using Artificial Intelligence to crunch 100 million mathematical calculations, helping scientists explore their potential effect on COVID-19. When all phases of the research are complete – estimated to be December 2021 – results will be made available to the medical community to facilitate clinical trials. Food-related findings could potentially be translated into dietary advice for patients recovering from COVID-19.
Dr Kirill Veselkov from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who is leading the Corona-AI research project, said: “While there is, rightly, much focus on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, we are looking for ways to potentially help people when they have contracted the virus, reducing either the duration or the severity of the disease. For patients who may not need hospital treatment, there is a critical need for innovative and cost-effective out-of-hospital treatment. We expect that precision nutrition strategies – designed with phytochemically rich Hyperfoods – may offer a novel solution in this regard.”
Helen Lamprell, Trustee of the Vodafone UK Foundation and General Counsel and External Affairs Director at Vodafone UK, said: “We’re proud that DreamLab is supporting research into COVID-19 and that it provides a platform so that people across the world can get involved. As the research moves to Phase 2, there’s still more to do. We encourage everyone to download and use the DreamLab app whenever they charge their smartphone. Together, we are making a difference.”
To download DreamLab, search for it in the App Store for iOS or Play Store for Android. Vodafone customers can activate DreamLab for free using either mobile data or Wi-Fi. Those on other networks will be asked how much data they would like to donate to power the app, or can connect via Wi-Fi. No personal data from the user’s device is used in any way.