World Community Grid Launches [email protected]

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 28, 2005

IBM launched a new research effort to help battle AIDS using the massive computational power of World Community Grid, a global community of computer users who have joined the philanthropic technology initiative by simply donating unused time on their personal computers. With computational power already placing it among the top 10 supercomputers in the world, World Community Grid will be the first virtual supercomputer devoted specifically to AIDS research.

Working with the Scripps Research Institute, a private, non-profit research organization engaged in basic biomedical science based in San Diego, World Community Grid will host its second major project — the Internet-based [email protected], an evolutionary research project dedicated to finding new AIDS therapies.

The new initiative will deploy massive computer power to develop novel chemical strategies effective in the treatment of HIV-infected individuals in the face of evolving drug resistance in the virus. Developing new, more robust therapies to prevent the onset of AIDS in individuals infected with HIV will be the focus of the Olson Laboratory project at The Scripps Research Institute.

“The computational challenges in approaching this problem are the vast number of possible mutations that may occur, and the huge number of possible chemical compounds that might be tested against them,” said Arthur J. Olson, Anderson Research Chair professor, Department of Molecular Biology at The Scripps Research Institute. “The new World Community Grid project will run millions upon millions of docking computations to evaluate potential interactions between compounds and mutant viral proteins.”

“AIDS is perhaps the most devastating epidemic of our time. Its growing impact on the developing nations of the world is both tragic and destabilizing,” said World Community Grid advisory board member David Baltimore, the Nobel Prize biologist and president of the California Institute of Technology. “Through World Community Grid, individuals in all parts of the globe can participate in helping develop effective, inexpensive and robust therapies against HIV and potentially reverse the downward health and economic impacts of this epidemic.”

The goal of [email protected] is to design new therapeutic approaches that are effective in the treatment of AIDS in the face of viral drug resistance. The pool of potential drug molecules, as well as that of possible mutant HIV proteins that may evolve, is enormous. World Community Grid's massive computing power will address the prediction of relevant interactions between these two pools of molecules to design effective AIDS therapies.

[email protected] is the second project that will take advantage of the enormous computational power offered by World Community Grid. In the past year, the Human Proteome Folding Project on World Community Grid has produced a database that describes the structure of approximately 120,000 protein domains that could not be described previously using traditional approaches. Using only the supercomputers at the Institute for Systems Biology, it would have taken about 100 years to compute the protein structures rather than one year on World Community Grid. The significance of this project to the research community is that this database of protein structures will help scientists take the next steps to understanding how diseases that involve these proteins work and, ultimately, how to cure diseases like cancer, malaria and others. The results of the Human Proteome Folding project will be entered into the public domain so that scientists and researchers can use the information in their own studies.

“We are very excited to bring the power of World Community Grid to this important research initiative,” said Linda Sanford, chairman of World Community Grid's advisory board and IBM senior vice president of Enterprise On Demand Transformation & Information Technology.

“World Community Grid is an extremely valuable resource for organizations focusing on some of society's most difficult challenges, and we will continue to actively engage with other institutions that are looking to use this asset for innovative research.”

More than 100,000 individuals are now volunteering power from 170,000 computers to help find a cure for AIDS through World Community Grid.

“We are excited to see a new and innovative way of getting millions of people involved in supporting research, prevention and care to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Candy Ferret, president and CEO of National AIDS Fund. “World Community Grid is helping to reduce the impact of AIDS around the world in a way we can all be a part of. We encourage all computer owners to take five minutes to join in this effort.”

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