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Old 6th January, 2006, 05:47 PM
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Join Date: June 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsio
I find this rather interesting, but what is it actually for?

Human Proteome Folding Project

Only a few years ago, scientists completed a draft sequence of the Human Genome. While our genes are an amazing repository of information, knowing the genes is only the beginning. It is the proteins made from these genes that actually carry out all the functions that keep us alive.

However, scientists still do not know the functions of a large fraction of human proteins. With an understanding of how each protein affects human health, scientists can develop new cures for human disease.

Huge amounts of data exist that can identify the role of individual proteins, but it must be analyzed to be useful. This analysis could take years to complete on super computers. World Community Grid hopes to shrink this time to months.

Proteins are long and disordered chains folded into globs. The number of shapes that proteins can fold into is enormous. Searching through all of the possible shapes to identify the correct function of an individual protein is a tremendous challenge.

The Human Proteome Folding project will provide scientists with data that predicts the shape of a very large number of human proteins. These predictions will give scientists the clues they need to identify the biological functions of individual proteins within the human body. With an understanding of how each protein affects human health, scientists can develop new cures for human diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and malaria.

Visit the About the Project page for a non-scientist description of proteins and how World Community Grid folds proteins using the agent software on your PC.

ISB designed the Human Proteome Folding project for World Community Grid and will use the results within its larger research efforts. For more information about the Human Proteome Folding project, please visit the Institute For Systems Biology web site.
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FightAIDS@Home

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, estimated that in 2004 there were more than 40 million people around the world living with HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus has affected the lives of men, women and children all over the world. Currently, there is no cure in sight, only treatment with a variety of drugs.

Prof. Arthur J. Olson's laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is studying computational ways to design new anti-HIV drugs based on molecular structure. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that the function of a molecule — a substance made up of many atoms — is related to its three-dimensional shape. Olson's target is HIV protease ("pro-tee-ace"), a key molecular machine of the virus that when blocked stops the virus from maturing. These blockers, known as "protease inhibitors", are thus a way of avoiding the onset of AIDS and prolonging life. The Olson Laboratory is using computational methods to identify new candidate drugs that have the right shape and chemical characteristics to block HIV protease. This general approach is called "Structure-Based Drug Design", and according to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, it has already had a dramatic effect on the lives of people living with AIDS.

Even more challenging, HIV is a "sloppy copier," so it is constantly evolving new variants, some of which are resistant to current drugs. It is therefore vital that scientists continue their search for new and better drugs to combat this moving target.

Scientists are able to determine by experiment the shapes of a protein and of a drug separately, but not always for the two together. If scientists knew how a drug molecule fit inside the active site of its target protein, chemists could see how they could design even better drugs that would be more potent than existing drugs.

To address these challenges, World Community Grid's FightAIDS@Home project runs a software program called AutoDock developed in Prof. Olson's laboratory. AutoDock is a suite of tools that predicts how small molecules, such as drug candidates, might bind or "dock" to a receptor of known 3D structure. The very first version of AutoDock was written in the Olson Laboratory in 1990 by Dr. David S. Goodsell, while newer versions, developed by Dr. Garrett M. Morris, have been released which add new scientific understanding and strategies to AutoDock, making it computationally more robust, faster, and easier for other scientists to use. AutoDock is used on the World Community Grid to dock large numbers of different small molecules to HIV protease, so the best molecules can be found computationally, selected and tested in the laboratory for efficacy against the virus, HIV. By joining forces together, The Scripps Research Institute, World Community Grid and its growing volunteer force can find better treatments much faster than ever before.

More info can be found by visiting the WCG website at http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/index.jsp
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