World Community Grid is being used around the world to help find cures and new treatments for many diseases. This extra computing power is also helping researchers find ways to bring clean water to billions of people who do not currently have access to this basic need.
Fighting childhood cancer in Japan
Researchers at Chiba University in Japan are using the power of World Community Grid in their Help Fight Childhood Cancer project to find drugs that can disable three particular proteins associated with neuroblastoma. Identifying these drugs could potentially make the disease—one of the most frequently occurring solid tumors in children—much more curable. The project uses the grid to experiment with the interaction between these proteins and each of the three million drug candidates that scientists believe could potentially block the proteins involved. With more than nine million virtual chemistry experiments, the project would require over 8000 years of computer time on a single machine. World Community Grid can speed this up dramatically, bringing the result time down to two years or less.
Helping to cure muscular dystrophy in France
Researchers at Decrypthon, a partnership between the French Muscular Dystrophy Association (AFM), the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Université Pierre et Marie Curie and IBM are using World Community Grid to examine the interaction between more than 2000 proteins that may play a role in neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy. These diseases are often genetic in origin and untreatable. By building a database cataloging these protein interactions, researchers can begin to design molecules that enhance or inhibit molecular binding, leading to better treatments for these diseases.
Computing for clean water in China
An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion have little or no sanitation. Millions of people die annually—including an estimated 3900 children a day—from the results of diseases transmitted through unsafe water, in particular diarrhea. This humanitarian problem can’t be economically addressed with current technologies. Filtering of dirty water and desalinization of sea water are possible but too expensive. Small-diameter carbon nanotubes, with the diameter of only a few water molecules, show enormous promise for effective and economical water filtration. Using the World Community Grid, researchers are simulating the interactions between water molecules and nanotubes, ultimately hoping to find ways to use carbon nanotubes as a basis for developing exceptionally efficient water filters.
Finding new anti-HIV drugs
In 2009, an estimated 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV and 1.8 million people died of AIDS-related causes. With no cure for the disease in sight, researchers are using the World Community Grid to find new drugs to treat the infection. The FightAIDS@Home project is focusing on finding drugs to block the HIV protease in order to keep the virus from replicating, thereby preventing the onset of AIDS. The project uses the computing power of the grid to simulate how a drug molecule and the target proteins fit together in three dimensions. With this knowledge, scientists can create more effective HIV protease inhibitors.
Curing water-borne disease in Brazil
Biologists and researchers at Brazil’s Inforium Bioinformatics, in collaboration with FIOCRUZ-Minas, are attempting to eliminate a parasite-based disease called schistosomiasis. This disease infects about 210 million people a year in 76 countries, and is found primarily in tropical regions and undeveloped countries. Incubated and spread through the consumption of foul water, schistosomiasis kills from 11,000 to 200,000 people every year. Researchers are tapping into the World Community Grid’s processing power to target human proteins and screen up to 13 million possible new drug compounds. They will compare the new compounds against the 180 protein structures in the schistosomiasis parasite, making great advances in the study of the disease.