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Research: Outsmart Ebola Together: Project FAQs Collapse   Expand  
Outsmart Ebola Together

  Project information
You can help by joining World Community Grid and providing your computer or Android device's spare processing time. In addition, you can help support the researchers at their crowd sourced funding site at: www.crowdrise.com/CUREEBOLA
The researchers have turned to public support because the normal research grant process can take up to a year before any funds become available. Furthermore, because of public funding cuts and the sequester, fewer grants are available than in the past. The researchers are most grateful for any support you can give.

  Scientific background
The Ebola virus, first identified in 1976 and named after the Ebola river near its outbreak, is a member of the filovirus family. The virus, which is shaped like a long, flexible filament, attaches to and drives itself into the cell. It then replicates efficiently, budding out numerous copies of itself from the cell. The virus attacks several types of cells, including important cells of the immune system that circulate and carry the virus throughout the body. The damage includes inappropriate clotting, leakage from blood vessels, inflammation, organ failure and shock. When a person is first infected, there is a two to 21 day incubation period before the infected person shows symptoms. Initial symptoms can closely resemble those caused by flu or common tropical diseases and progress to include high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and more. Contact with an infected person's fluids or the body of a patient that died from disease can infect the next person.
Infected people are best treated at special facilities which can best treat their symptoms and which can isolate their bodily fluids and keep them from infecting others. If special facilities are not available, bleach is used to disinfect everything that touches or comes from the patient. Treatment consists of re-hydration and treating the patients' symptoms. The patient may survive the disease if his own immune system is able to clear the virus before it has caused too much damage. Some experimental treatments have been used, but their efficacy is uncertain.
When a person is first infected, there is a two to 21 day incubation period before the infected person shows symptoms. Initial symptoms can closely resemble those caused by flu or common tropical diseases. Symptoms progress to include high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, bleeding and more.
Most outbreaks have occurred in central Africa (Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda), but in 2014, a sustained epidemic in Western Africa sickened patients in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali. Some of these people traveled to the United States, Germany, Spain, and England for treatment. Another species in the ebolavirus genus, Reston virus, exists naturally in Asia where it has been found among non-human primates and domesticated swine in China and the Philippines.
A vaccine gives your body immunity to the particular species of virus that the vaccine was manufactured to address. Once a person receives this vaccine and the immune system learns how to defend against the disease (typically 2 or more weeks), immunity to the disease is thought to last. Antiviral drugs are used to treat a viral disease once a person has contracted it and has no prior immunity, or if vaccination somehow failed to prevent infection. As of the start of this project, there are no approved vaccines or antiviral drugs that exist for Ebola. An antiviral drug could complement vaccines or antibody treatments because the antiviral would target the virus in a different way. Thus this project aims to discover an effective antiviral drug to fight Ebola.

  Project graphics
Here is a video of the Outsmart Ebola Together project graphics when the Vina software is being used:

The right portion of the screen saver shows both the target and drug candidate molecules, depicted as a collection of small spheres that represent the atoms of each molecule. These are the specific molecules that your device is currently working on. The left portion of the screen saver shows a scientist working in a laboratory.
A screenshot of the project graphics is available for download in the following resolutions:

TSRI is the logo for "The Scripps Research Institute" in La Jolla, California, USA, which is the largest private biomedical research institute in the nation and the home of the research teams behind the Outsmart Ebola Together project.
The progress bar towards the bottom of the screen saver represents approximately how much of the current task your device has processed. When it reaches 100%, the computation is complete and the results will then be sent back to the World Community Grid servers, where they will be packaged and delivered to the Outsmart Ebola Together researchers.
The small spheres represent the atoms in both the target molecule and candidate molecule currently being processed by your device.