Your Computer Can Help Scientists Seeking Potential COVID-19 Treatments

IBM today announced that anyone in the world with a PC, laptop or Mac and an Internet connection could help scientists seek chemical compounds that might be effective against COVID-19. To do so, volunteers’ devices will perform small, virtual experiments to identify chemical compounds, including those in existing medicines that could potentially be used as treatments candidates for COVID-19. Compounds that show promise for treating COVID-19 will undergo further testing and analysis. The project, designed and led by Scripps Research, will be hosted on IBM’s World Community Grid, a trusted, crowdsourced computing resource provided at no charge for scientists.

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Volunteers download an app that works when their devices are otherwise idle or in light use. Operating unobtrusively in the background without slowing users’ systems, the app distributes computational assignments and returns completed calculations to researchers, all via the IBM cloud. Volunteers need not have any special technical expertise to participate; the process is automatic. Personal information is never shared, and the software cannot access personal or business files. Please click here to sign up.

With IBM’s World Community Grid crowdsourcing power from thousands of computing devices, the project, called “OpenPandemics – COVID-19,” will easily be able perform hundreds of millions of calculations needed for simulations. This could potentially help scientists accelerate the drug discovery or drug re-purposing process, traditionally performed more slowly in a traditional, “wet” laboratory. As with all World Community Grid projects, data generated by this effort will be made publicly available. While the project will initially focus on COVID-19, Scripps Research also plans to develop tools and methods to allow future drug discovery projects to ramp up quickly, such as during other pandemics.

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