Help fight SARS on your computer
Wednesday 7 May 2003
Find-a-Drug is pleased to announce the start of its Respiratory Disease project which focuses on diseases that affect the lungs. The first target is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and subsequent ones may include Tuberculosis (TB) and Chronic Bronchitis.
SARS is believed to be caused by a virus belonging to the corona family, similar to one which can cause gastroenteritis. In general, antibiotics are of little use against a viral infection and survival can depend on the body's own immune system. Vaccines can play a valuable role priming the immune system to respond to viral proteins, but only if the outer surface of the protein does not rapidly mutate and change creating different strains (like HIV does). The ideal drug inhibits the development of the virus by interacting at a site or pocket of the protein much like a key turns in a lock.
In this project we hope to harness the unused computer time of thousands of Personal Computers (PC's) connected to the Internet around the world forming a large supercomputer. Computer modelling can evaluate the potential of molecules to inhibit the action of a protein or enzyme. The drug target is the active site of a protease which is a key enzyme in the coronavirus polyprotein and quite unlike other viral and human proteins. We anticipate processing hundreds of millions of molecules over the course of a few weeks. The results will be made available to recognised research groups around the world.
"The software runs in the background, using the computer only when it is not being used by the owner" commented Keith Davies, Scientific Director of Find-a-Drug. PC owners may participate in the project by downloading the THINK software and molecules from www.find-a-drug.org. The protein and molecule data as well as the results are encrypted to ensure that they are securely transmitted between the PCs and Find-a-Drug internet servers. Once installed, the software does not require any interaction by the owner nor does it impact on normal use of the PC.
To participate visit www.find-a-drug.org.
For further information please contact:
Tel: Keith Davies +44 1386 871670 or 07879 495105