|By: Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, PhD|
|The Scripps Research Institute|
|3 Dec 2014|
The Ebola virus is a significant global health threat and is responsible for a growing humanitarian crisis in West Africa. Currently, there are no proven treatments or vaccines. We’re launching Outsmart Ebola Together to help researchers find a cure. Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire of The Scripps Research Institute tells us more about the project and what she hopes to achieve together.
The current outbreak of the Ebola virus is the largest in history, and has been described by the World Health Organization as "the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times”.
While previous outbreaks have ended when the disease was contained and disappeared from the human population, the scope of the 2014 outbreak raises the possibility that the virus, rather than disappearing again, could become endemic - permanently persisting in human populations in one or more areas.
Currently, there are no approved treatments or vaccines for this deadly disease. In response to this urgent need, I reached out to my colleagues around the world to create the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium, a collaborative effort of the world’s top Ebola experts to pool our knowledge and skills to find a cure as quickly as possible. Some compounds show promise as treatments for Ebola virus and are currently being tested through fast-tracked studies. However, we are still looking urgently for a definitive cure, and more must be done.
Today, we’re launching Outsmart Ebola Together to accelerate the search for a cure. Outsmart Ebola Together is a collaboration between The Scripps Research Institute and IBM’s World Community Grid to screen millions of chemical compounds, searching for ones that can disable the Ebola virus.
My team at The Scripps Research Institute has already mapped nearly all of the critical proteins of the Ebola virus. These molecular images are like enemy reconnaissance: they show where the virus is vulnerable and can be targeted to block key stages of its life cycle.
Outsmart Ebola Together is a crowdsourced effort to dramatically accelerate our research. With the computing power donated by World Community Grid volunteers, we will be able to rapidly screen millions of chemical compounds to find the ones that can disable these crucial Ebola proteins - stopping the virus in its tracks.
World Community Grid volunteers are critical to the success of Outsmart Ebola Together. If you have a computer or Android device, you can help too. Join World Community Grid today to donate your spare computing power to searching for Ebola treatments with our team.
You can also donate to The Scripps Research Institute’s crowdfunding campaign to help us secure additional resources needed to analyze the enormous volume of data generated by Outsmart Ebola Together.
Together, we can find a cure.