Fighting malaria with the help of personal computing power

September 5, 2012

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].

Explore further: Networking computers to help combat disease

Related Stories

Networking computers to help combat disease

January 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 Plasmodium.

Progress in understanding the malarial parasite

September 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 ...

Novel anti-malarial drug target identified

July 19, 2012

An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the first reported inhibitors of a key enzyme involved ...

Improving human immunity to malaria

August 1, 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.

Recommended for you

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

New method creates endless supply of kidney precursor cells

August 25, 2016

Salk Institute scientists have discovered the holy grail of endless youthfulness—at least when it comes to one type of human kidney precursor cell. Previous attempts to maintain cultures of the so-called nephron progenitor ...

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

Strict diet combats rare progeria aging disorders

August 25, 2016

Mice with a severe aging disease live three times longer if they eat thirty percent less. Moreover, they age much healthier than mice that eat as much as they want. These are findings of a joint study being published today ...

1 comment

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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.