Help Fight Childhood Cancer

What is neuroblastoma?

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.

What is the cause of neuroblastoma?

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.

What are the potential benefits of the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project?

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.

What will our calculations for the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project produce?

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.

What is the benefit of conducting this research on World Community Grid?

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.