Human Proteome Folding Project Produces Significant Results
Thanks to the tremendous volunteer power of World Community Grid, the
Human Proteome Folding Project has produced significant results since its launch last November. Researchers
at the Institute for Human Biology (ISB), which sponsored the study, now have information to
describe the structure of approximately 27,000 protein domains in the Human Proteome that could not be completed
with traditional approaches. Using only the existing computational power at ISB, it would have taken 100 years to get these results, compared with just 12 months on World Community Grid.
For the first time, the structure of 90 percent of the Human Proteome is known. Previously, of the 30,000 proteins in the Human Proteome — or approximately 90,000 protein domains — tools were available to describe the structure of only three-fifths of these (or 18,000 proteins and 54,000 protein domains). Using World Community Grid and the Rosetta computer program, which tells how properly folded a protein is, ISB is able to describe an additional 9,000 proteins (or 27,000 protein domains).
This information is essential in helping scientists take the next steps to understanding how diseases — such as cancer — that involve these proteins work and, ultimately, how to cure them.
Research on World Community Grid also produced descriptions of another 90,000 protein domains of organisms that are critical to human well-being, including malaria and bacteria that cause tuberculosis, pneumonia, leprosy and intestinal diseases. These predicted structures will be combined with other, pre-existing sources of bio-info, to get at the function of these proteins.
Biologists working on nearly all diseases will benefit from this new data since all diseases involve proteins. This work also is being carried out in parallel to experimental structural genomics projects and represents an essential component to the global, multi-institutional effort to understand the structure of these building blocks of life. For example, researchers will use the results to begin work on studies involving cancer and emergent pathogens such as Francicella, a biowarfare agent, as well as all other standard bacterial pathogens.
With only a fraction of the folding left, the project, with more than 100,000 volunteers and growing, should in the words of one World Community Grid blogger, "finish this thing sprinting."