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Research: Help Fight Childhood Cancer: Project FAQs
 
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Help Fight Childhood Cancer



Neuroblastoma is one of the most frequently occurring solid tumors in children, especially in the first 2 years of life, when it accounts for 50% of all tumors. Neuroblastoma comprises 6–10% of all childhood cancers, and 15% of cancer deaths in children.

The cause of neuroblastoma is currently unknown, though most physicians believe that it is an accidental cell growth that occurs during normal development of the adrenal glands and sympathetic ganglia.

The Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute and Chiba University are using the computational power of World Community Grid to identify new candidate drugs that have the right shape and chemical characteristics to block three proteins – TrkB, ALK and SCxx, which are expressed at high levels, or abnormally mutated, in aggressive neuroblastomas. If these proteins are disabled, scientists believe there should be a high cure rate using chemotherapy.

The researchers have prepared a library of 3 million compounds - or potential drug candidates (called ligands) – and are using World Community Grid to simulate laboratory experiments to test which of these compounds block the TrkB, ALK and SCxx proteins. The best molecules will be selected from the project and tested in a laboratory for efficacy against neuroblastoma.

In the absence of the computational power of World Community Grid, researchers would have to undertake their investigation through individual docking simulations which would take approximately 8,000 years to complete. With World Community Grid, analysis can be carried out in parallel, and researchers estimate this will reduce the time required to about 2 years.

The paintings were donated by the Children's Cancer Association of Japan (CCAJ). CCAJ is the only non-profit organization in Japan to support children with cancer and their families and was established in October 1968, by parents who had lost their children to cancer.

The paintings were done as follows:

  • "Lion" was painted by a 5 year old cancer patient who had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. The patient passed away at the age of 6.
  • "Pink seeds" was painted a 9 year old cancer patient who had Cerebellar medulloblastoma. The patient is currently 17 years old.
  • "Radio-Exercises" was painted by 5 year old cancer patient who had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The patient passed away at age 7.

It means that your device is processing one of the millions of drug candidates for the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project. It is simulating a laboratory experiment to test if this particular drug candidate could potentially block a protein involved with the cancer. The shape in the center of the circle of children represents the protein molecule being targeted in the experiment running on your device.

Because the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project focuses on a disease that afflicts children, the circle of children represents children who are surrounding a potential cancer-related molecule. This is the molecule that is being processed on your device at the time you are looking at the screen saver. The children are hopeful that a cure for neuroblastoma will be found using your computing time.

For the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project, the molecule is a graphical representation of the protein molecule (one of TrkB, ALK, or SCxx proteins) being tested against a particular drug candidate in the work unit that is running on your device at the time that you are looking at the screen saver. Occasionally, when a possible docking position is calculated between the protein and drug molecules, the docking position is represented by a small colored ball.

The Progress Bar tells you how much of the current work unit is finished. Since the main recipients of the benefits of the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project are children, the progress bar is made up of children.

These figures represents the parents of a child with cancer and the child. These figures are placed between the two logos to show that Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute and Chiba University work together to help cancer patients.

There are two photos of buildings in the slide show. One comes after the picture of the Help Fight Childhood Cancer scientists. This is a picture of the Chiba University campus with cherry blossom trees in bloom. The second picture which comes immediately after the first is a picture of the Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute.