Fighting malaria with the help of personal computing power

UCD researchers, Dr Anthony Chubb and PhD student Kevin O'Brien, working with Conway Fellow, Professor Denis Shields in the Complex Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL) are harnessing the donated computational power of personal computers to find new targets for anti-malarial drugs.

Most computers only use a fraction of their available CPU power for day-to-day computation. The UCD team have built a BOINC server that distributes jobs to donated 'client' computers, which then carry out the work in the background.

Malaria kills a child every 45 seconds. The parasite responsible, Plasmodium falciparum, continues to evolve resistance to available medication. New replacement drugs that target new proteins in the parasite are urgently needed.

Large pharmaceutical organisations such as GSK and Novartis have already tested millions of compounds and found nearly 19,000 hits that show promising activity against . However, they do not know which (s) is actually being affected by these compounds.

If the target protein for each of these hits is identified, the process of drug discovery and development would be significantly enhanced. The FightMalaria@Home project is aimed at finding these new targets by distributed computation or crowd-sourcing.

Dr Anthony Chubb says, "We plan to dock each of the 19,000 hits into structures of each of the 5,363 proteins in the . The needed is enormous.

By connecting thousands of computers, we can harness the equivalent of large supercomputers to help us with our research.

We have over 2000 computers from 63 countries around the world signed on already. This is allowing us to do about 300,000 docking calculations per day, but need to get to closer to 1 million per day."

The UCD team are appealing to people all over Ireland to donate computing time by logging onto www.fight-malaria.org and following the simple setup instructions. On this website, you can also monitor the leader board, top teams and project statistics.

Malaria infects 216 million people and kills 650,000 each year, mostly African children under 5 years old [WHO].

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Improving human immunity to malaria

Aug 01, 2012

The deadliest form of malaria is caused the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum. During its life-cycle in human blood, the parasite P. falciparum expresses unique proteins on the surface on infected blood cells. ...

Progress in understanding the malarial parasite

Sep 14, 2007

About 2 million people die of malaria every year, of which more than a million are children in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is caused by a protozoan parasite belonging to the genus Plasmodium, and Plasmodium falciparum is ...

Networking computers to help combat disease

Jan 23, 2006

Last year there were about 350-500 million infections and approximately 1.3 million deaths due to malaria, mainly in the tropics. Malaria is spread by female mosquitoes, which carry protozoan parasites called ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

11 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

12 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Roland
not rated yet Sep 05, 2012
The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) is an open source middleware system for volunteer and grid computing.
https://en.wikipe...omputing