Project Information

What are the goals of OpenPandemics - COVID-19?

The primary goal of the project is to search for potential treatments for COVID-19, so studying proteins from SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is the highest priority.

Additionally, the project's scientists want to fight not only the current emergency, but also prepare for the ones that will likely follow. Future pandemics could stem from a progressive accumulation of mutations, which can eventually lead to a new virus variant. This is what happened when the virus SARS-CoV1 mutated to become SARS-CoV2. So the research team is including proteins from the SARS-CoV1 and other viruses to be studied as part of OpenPandemics - COVID-19, which will help them assess how difficult would it be to find or design molecules capable of overcoming the inevitable mutations.

The secondary goal is to create a fast-response, open source toolkit that will help all scientists quickly search for treatments for future pandemics.

In keeping with World Community Grid's open data policy, all data, tools, and processes that are developed through OpenPandemics will be made freely available to the scientific community.

How are the goals of the project being met?

The research team is leveraging computational research techniques (where scientists run many computer-based, simulated experiments) to help accelerate the search for treatments for COVID-19 and other pandemics. These powerful techniques are effective because computational research can correlate different sources of information as soon as they are available (such as virus mutations and other types of data). This helps scientists build models that constantly evolve to provide insight on how to fight the infection being studied. 

World Community Grid's massive computing power allows scientists to leverage such research techniques at scale. For this project, this computing power is enabling the research team to rapidly study millions of chemical compounds that could be potential treatments for COVID-19, identify the most promising compounds, and flag them for testing in real-life laboratories.

Who are the scientists involved in OpenPandemics - COVID-19?

The Forli Lab at Scripps Research is spearheading the study. They will be working with additional collaborators within Scripps Research, as well as at other institutions, on various aspects of the project including to conduct lab testing based on the results of the virtual experiments conducted on World Community Grid. You can learn more about the scientists behind the project on the Research Participants page.

How might the data generated by OpenPandemics - COVID-19 be valuable to scientists?

The data generated during the project could represent ideal starting points for the design of new classes of drugs to target COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Additionally, OpenPandemics - COVID-19 could build a model for the fast deployment of computational resources to help identify potential treatments during fast-spreading pandemics.

And because all data, tools, and processes that are developed through OpenPandemics - COVID-19 will be shared freely, the project can benefit the scientific community at large.

How is World Community Grid helping with this effort?

The computing power donated by World Community Grid volunteers enables researchers to explore a much larger chemical space by screening hundreds of millions of molecules in the quest for promising drug candidates against COVID-19. The scale of the volunteers' donated computing power also means that a research effort of this scale can be done in a matter of months instead of years.

Right now, this project is looking for potential treatments for COVID-19. Will there be future phases of the project?

There's a good possibility that OpenPandemics may have additional phases. From what scientists have learned from past outbreaks, they expect pandemics caused by newly emerging pathogens to become more and more common. That's why the project is being designed to be rapidly deployed to fight future diseases–ideally before they reach a critical stage.

In order to help address future pandemics, researchers need access to swift and effective tools which can be deployed very early, as soon as a threatening disease is identified. Using the knowledge and data from looking for potential COVID-19 treatments, the researchers plan to create a software infrastructure to streamline the computational research process of finding potential treatments for other diseases. And, in keeping with World Community Grid's open data policy, they'll make their findings and these tools freely available to the scientific community.

How can I help?

Anyone with a computer can help the search for potential COVID-19 treatments by joining World Community Grid.

It's easy: you create a World Community Grid account, select to support OpenPandemics - COVID-19, and then install our free and safe software on your computer. Then, whenever your computer has any unused computing power, it runs a simulation on behalf of the OpenPandemics research team to evaluate the effectiveness of chemical compounds as potential COVID-19 treatment options.

The more people that participate, the quicker the researchers can get their work done!