One of the main research projects undertaken by IBM's nonprofit World Community Grid, on human proteome folding, kicks into the next phase.
The World Community Grid, founded at the end of 2004 by IBM for nonprofit research projects in the name of the public good, recently announced that one of its two major research projects focusing on human proteome folding has been launched into its second phase.
The project, which began at the Institute for Systems Biology and now continues at New York Universitys Department of Biology and Computer Science, will refine the software representation of the protein structures resulting from the first phase of the project.
The goal of the first phase was to understand protein function; now the goal set for the second phase is improve the resolution of the predictions for a select subset of human proteins and to explore the limits of protein structure prediction.
This project focuses on human-secreted proteins, particularly those involved in cancer that are important for signaling between cells and are often key markers for diagnosis.
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These proteins have ended up being useful as drugs when synthesized and given by doctors to people lacking the proteins.
Examples of human-secreted proteins turned into therapeutics are insulin and the human growth hormone.
Understanding the function of human secreted proteins may help researchers discover the function of proteins of unknown function in the blood and other interstitial fluids.
The project also will focus on key secreted malarial proteins, to better understand and treat the disease.
At the beginning of 2006, the World Community Grid
reported that it had accumulated the equivalent of 35,000 years of run time on a single computer through its grid network.
Individual members, as well as 185 partners including business and academia, belong to the network.
The other major project currently under way on the World Community Grid is the testing of chemical compounds that may be effective as new HIV protease inhibitors.
The starting point for this project in November 2005 was the database of 230,000 chemical compounds maintained by the NCI (National Cancer Institute).
The NCI also constructed a subset of 2,000 chemical compounds intended to represent the chemical diversity represented by the larger database.
The World Community Grid has already been used to complete an initial phase of this project by doing a virtual screening of these 2,000 chemical compounds against 270 HIV proteases.
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