Tackling Cancer Behind Scenes

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2001-04-23

A worthwhile new distributed computing project backed by the University of Oxford, in England; the National Foundation for Cancer Research, in Maryland; Intel; and United Devices, along with other supporting organizations, was launched earlier this month.

The United Devices agent can run in the background or as a screen saver and looks for topological matches between drug molecules and proteins that could play a role in future cancer treatments.

As I write this, my systems running the agent are looking for chemical inhibitors of the protein SOD (superoxide dismutase), which eliminates harmful free radicals from the body. Just last September, an article published in the journal Nature reported that the molecule 2-methoxyestradiol inhibited SOD activity, selectively killing leukemic cells but not healthy cells.

About one-third of all cancer deaths in children are from leukemia. I dearly hope this program can come up with another 2-methoxyestradiol.

The free software agent is available at members.ud.com/download/gold. Results will be made public and will be the intellectual property of Oxford and the NFCR, not of private drug companies.

Oxfords project site is at www.chem.ox.ac.uk/curecancer.html.

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