In just over a month, the York University Research team on the World Community Grid has exceeded 200 members, placing York in the top 70 of more than 14,000 teams on the grid worldwide. Simply by offering their idle computer time for major humanitarian research, members of the York team return more than 100 results per day to the grid which translates into just under five full years of accumulated research on such projects as fighting Muscular Dystrophy, AIDS and cancer.
The World Community Grid uses grid technology to join together many individual computers, creating a large system with massive computational power that far exceeds the power of a few supercomputers. The software is easy and safe to use. York University is encouraging its community of students, alumni, faculty and staff to contribute their idle PC time (or Mac time) to assist humanitarian research by joining the grid at www.worldcommunitygrid.org and then becoming a member of their team: York University Research. There are simple step-by-step instructions at www.yorku.ca/wcg.
To join, individuals simply download and install a free, small software program onto their computers. When idle, a member’s computer requests data from World Community Grid’s server. The computer then performs computations using this data, sends the results back to the server, and prompts it for a new piece of work.
See more about the grid and how to join the York University Research team at www.yorku.ca/wcg.
In one of several World Community Grid projects currently underway, researchers supported by Decrypthon, a partnership between the French Muscular Dystrophy Association, French National Center for Scientific Research and IBM are investigating protein-protein interactions for 40,000 proteins whose structures are known, with particular focus on those proteins that play a role in neuromuscular diseases. The database of information produced will help researchers design molecules to inhibit or enhance binding of particular macromolecules, hopefully leading to better treatments for muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases.
|Above: The World Community Grid screen saver for the Decrypton muscular dystrophy project|
What is neuromuscular disease and muscular dystrophy?
Neuromuscular disease is a generic term for a group of disorders (more than 200 in all) that impair muscle functioning either directly through muscle pathology (muscular dystrophy) or indirectly through nerve pathology. Most of them are rare (affecting less than one person in 2,000), have a genetic origin (80 per cent) and affect both children and adults. These chronic diseases lead to a decrease in muscle strength, causing serious disabilities in motor functions (moving, breathing etc.). Disease expression is variable; some disorders are progressive, while others remain stable for several years and the same disease can cause different symptoms from one person to the next.
Despite advances in therapeutic techniques, there is currently no curative treatment available for persons affected by neuromuscular diseases. (Source: World Community Grid)
Other projects include research into HIVAIDS and cancer.
For more on York’s effort, see the Feb. 1, Feb. 27 and March 1 issues of YFile.