With all the hoopla going around, I found myself wondering what I could do to fight the coronavirus. In my research, I came across Folding@Home, a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. It brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology, and providing new opportunities for developing therapeutics.
To make helping a little more fun and competitive, Folding@Home assigns points to a user when they complete a work unit (a simulation). Points for a specific work unit are determined by it’s base credit (scaling factor multiplied by the time taken to run on a benchmark machine) and adjusted for how long it takes the user to complete.
What does this mean for COVID-19?
Viruses, like COVID-19, have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. With a better understanding of how the viral protein works, a therapeutic can be designed to stop them. There are many experimental methods for determining protein structures. While extremely powerful, they only reveal a single snapshot of a protein’s usual shape. But proteins have lots of moving parts, so we really want to see the protein in action. Taking the experimental structures as starting points, we can simulate how all the atoms in the protein move, effectively filling in for what the experiments miss.
Nighthawk Server’s Folding@Home Stats
|Folding@Home contribution stats for user JrPickle
|Grand score (points)
|Work units completed
|92,769 of 2,988,733 donors
|Most recent work unit completion date missing - Check in later
|Report generated on
|February 29, 2024, 2:12 pm
Folding@home allows anyone to assist with disease research by donating their unused computer processing power. To join in, simply download the F@H software.