Computer Users Enlisted in Hunt for AIDS Drugs
November 21, 2005
The FightAIDSHome project is asking computer users worldwide to donate the power of their idling PCs to a distributed or grid computing effort to fight HIV/AIDS. Backed by Scripps Research Institute and IBM, the project's distributed computing system can harness thousands of disparate computers, borrowing their computing power when the machines are idling, to work as one system in developing HIV drugs.
"There are 650 million PCs in the world, and the more people who get involved, the more power we can devote to fighting AIDS and other significant diseases," said Stan Litow, president of IBM International Foundation.
Grid technology breaks formidable computing tasks into more discrete pieces that individual PCs can be assigned to work through. A home PC might test thousands of chemical compounds against variations in an HIV protein, one combination at a time, said Arthur Olsen, a molecular biology professor with private, California-based Scripps. The compounds that prevent the widest variety of HIV strains from replicating will then advance to laboratory testing, Olsen said.
Scripps researchers are specifically looking to test protease inhibitor-like compounds. The project's first phase will last three months, testing about 2,000 compounds against some 200 HIV mutations, said Olsen. IBM and Linux computer users first need to download and install free software for their PC to work on the project. For more information, please visit www.worldcommunitygrid.org.
11.21.05; David Ho
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.