Supercomputer Fights AIDS

The virtual supercomputer will test thousands of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) mutations against tens of thousands of chemical compounds.
The grid provides a discussion forum and increases awareness of the project. Donors can track their contributions and overall project statistics. A three-dimensional graphical output will display computational progress.

The infrastructure allows maintenance and updates of the science run on [email protected] as well as AutoDock. It will also support [email protected] on Linux based systems.

Project leaders hope to complete the calculations within a year.

Meanwhile, the grid's first major set of computations, through the Human Proteome Folding Project, are 99 percent done, according to Willner.

In the year since its launch, the grid performed about 120,000 simulations of protein folding patterns and produced a database for researchers. The work, which would have taken about 100 years for the Institute for Systems Biology's supercomputer to perform, shows scientists how amino acids fold into three-dimensional structures.

Proper folding is essential to protein functioning and ultimately health. So, understanding the folding process is a step toward understanding and curing diseases like cancer and malaria.

World Community Grid makes technology and scientific findings publicly available. It is only used for humanitarian research.

IBM donates the hardware, software, technical services and expertise to create the infrastructure for the grid. The company also provides free hosting, maintenance and support.

There are six other projects in the pipeline and all can run simultaneously, Willner said. IBM plans to announce several new philanthropic grid computing efforts in the first quarter of 2006.

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