Who would have thought that a method that enabled the automatic firing of anti-aircraft guns in World War II would be applicable over 70 years later? This time, though, instead of protecting London's citizens from German warplanes, it’s creating antibodies to protect humans from infectious viruses. Even the method of viral infection is similarly violent to warplanes—viruses like Ebola punch a hole in the surface of a cell to inject genetic material. This method, called smart Monte Carlo or biased random walk, can be explained in terms of evolution: Random mutations occur, but there's a bias toward those mutations that improve survival, since the lethal mutations won't get passed on.
A team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Stanford University used this method to predict what antibody would most likely pair best with a protein that coats a virus. Their work focuses on two strains of the Ebola virus, and multiple possible mutants of both strains.