Monday, November 14, 2011
The mission of the GO Fight Against Malaria project is to discover promising drug candidates that could be developed into new drugs that cure drug resistant forms of malaria. The computing power of World Community Grid will be used to perform computer simulations of the interactions between millions of chemical compounds and certain target proteins, to predict their ability to eliminate malaria. The best compounds will be tested and further developed into possible treatments for the disease.
Malaria is one of the three deadliest infectious diseases on earth and is caused by parasites that infect both humans and animals. Female mosquitoes spread the disease by biting infected hosts and passing the parasites to other hosts that they bite later. When these parasites replicate themselves in red blood cells (which the parasites use for food), the symptoms of malaria appear. Malaria initially causes fevers and headaches, and in severe cases it leads to comas or death. Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the deadliest form of malaria, kills more people than any other parasite on the planet. Over 3 billion people are at risk of being infected with malaria.
Although there are many approved drugs that are able to cure malarial infections, multi-drug-resistant mutant "superbugs" exist that are not eliminated by the current drugs. Because new mutant superbugs keep evolving and spreading throughout the world, discovering and developing new types of drugs that can cure infections by these multi-drug-resistant mutant strains of malaria is a significant global health priority.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute of La Jolla, California, U.S.A., will use IBM's World Community Grid to computationally evaluate millions of candidate compounds against different molecular drug targets from the malaria parasite. If these target molecules can be disabled, then patients infected with malaria can potentially be cured. The computations will estimate the ability of the candidate compounds to disable the particular target molecules needed by the malaria parasite to survive and multiply. Particular priority will be given to targets and candidate compounds which could attack the multi-drug-resistant mutant "superbug" strains of the malaria parasite. The power of World Community Grid can reduce to one (1) year what would take at least one hundred (100) years to complete using the resources normally available to the researchers at The Scripps Research Institute. The results computed on World Community Grid will be available in the public domain for all scientists to use and build upon in their research to develop drugs to fight malaria.