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Protein Folding to Find a Cure for Cancer

10 May 2007 2 Comments

If you develop cancer or a loved one develops it, one of the most frustrating things you may go through is the lack of empowerment. There’s a general feeling that you are at the fate of the doctors and how well your cancer responds to chemo. This applies to both caregivers and patients.

There are things you can do and distributed computing can help. I have known about Stanford University’s Protein Folding program [LINK] for many years now but never felt compelled to set it up. With cancer hitting so close to home it’s time to rectify that.

"What is protein folding and how is folding linked to disease? Proteins are biology’s workhorses — its "nanomachines." Before proteins can carry out these important functions, they assemble themselves, or "fold." The process of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, in many ways remains a mystery.

Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes."

"Folding@Home is a distributed computing project — people from through out the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer makes the project closer to our goals.

Folding@Home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems thousands to millions of times more challenging than previously achieved."

If you have a computer at home or have access to one at work I encourage you to download and install Folding@Home [LINK].

2 Comments »

  • Jordan said:

    Has folding at home ever produced any medical results? I know it has produced of volume of papers, both medical and computer science, but I’ve never read in my science journals about any concrete medical advance that is attributed, “we couldn’t have done this without folding at home.”
    That being said, I feel like it has a better chance of results than SETI@Home, and I’ve been running it across my computers (even my PS3!) for a long while now.

  • Shanahan said:

    Jordan: You know that’s a good question. I don’t think they’ve produced any “concrete medical advances” but I do think as you’ve said they are doing better work than say SETI@home. To be honest I don’t know enough about the space to categorically say one way or the other.

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