|13 Feb 2014|
If you missed last week's live webcast with Prof. Carbone of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, the replay is now available.
On 6 February, Professor Alessandra Carbone, lead researcher for Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy, presented a live webcast to update members about the progress on Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project. You can view the replay below:
In her live presentation, Professor Carbone explained the overall aims of the project: to better understand intracellular protein interactions and to identify the specific circumstances that cause degenerative neuromuscular diseases. Muscular dystrophy is one well-known type, but there are actually hundreds of these diseases, in which muscles progressively weaken because of improper functioning of muscle cells themselves or associated nerve cells. To find better treatments, researchers first need to understand the interactions between thousands of different proteins potentially associated with the disease. World Community Grid members have been absolutely essential to this effort; nearly 300,000 members donated computing time to help her team's efforts.
In Phase 1, the project screened 168 well-understood protein pairs to demonstrate the accuracy and usefulness of computational modeling for identifying pairs of proteins that bind together, which is an essential step to finding better treatments. Proteins are very difficult objects to simulate because they have complex 3D structures and the number of possible orientations is immense. However, the proteins were not modeled at random; the research team used knowledge about the proteins' evolutionary history to predict interaction sites and possible partnerships.
The team found that it was possible to accurately predict binding sites on the proteins, meaning that they could simulate a smaller number of positions for each pair, greatly increasing the project's efficiency without significantly reducing the accuracy of the results.
Because of these advances, Phase 2 of the project could analyze pairings of 2,246 proteins - this raw data was completed in 2013 and the analysis is currently underway. The team hopes to have a full database of information about the interactions between these proteins within 18-24 months.
There are still many steps in the path to an effective treatment or cure for muscular dystrophy, but the detailed and extensive knowledge generated by World Community Grid members will be a tremendous resource to Professor Carbone's team and to others who are working toward these goals.
If you contributed processing time to Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy, thank you! Make sure to check your My Projects page and stay involved with current research!