World Community Grid’s FightAIDS@Home Team Gathers at HIVE Center Meeting

The FightAIDS@Home researchers recently met in California to discuss their plans for the project’s future.

On January 15 and 16, 2020, the HIVE (HIV Interactions in Viral Evolution) Center held its annual winter face-to-face meeting in La Jolla, California at The Scripps Research Institute. Sixty-five scientists, who are HIVE members from around the country, were in attendance. This U.S. National Institutes of Health funded Center was established by founding Director Prof. Arthur Olson, who also initiated the FightAIDS@Home (FAAH) project on World Community Grid (WCG) in 2005. FAAH and WCG play a significant part in the work of the Center, which integrates their computational research with the experimental research of virologists, molecular biologists, structural biologists, and chemists within the HIVE. 

The latest research of the FAAH team was presented at the meeting, which included work from the Levy group at Temple University as well as from the Olson laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute.

The Levy group described the current computations that they are doing to find new candidate drug compounds. They use World Community Grid to evaluate and rank compounds that have been previously identified by virtual screening against the capsid molecule and its assemblies. Capsid is a new HIV target for drug development, and this new target is critical in the viral infection process.

The Olson group described new preliminary virtual screens against capsid that have the potential to create “suicide inhibitors,” compounds chemically bound to the target protein. The approach utilizes the chemistry developed in HIVE member and Nobel Prize winner Barry Sharples’s group at Scripps. Plans to start up a new virtual screening campaign using this chemistry against capsid on FightAIDS@HOME were discussed.  

The two-day meeting highlighted the latest HIVE work on understanding the structure and function of HIV and how infected human cells interact with the virus during its life cycle. The focus of the research is in understanding how the virus evolves and its implications for both drug design and in finding a cure by elimination or complete suppression of the virus in its human host. Gratitude was expressed for the important contributions that World Community Grid volunteers have made to progress of the HIVE Center’s work.  

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