COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV2, a virus of the coronavirus family. These viruses cause diseases that affect mainly the human respiratory system and potentially other major organs. COVID-19 can lead to serious illness or even death.
As of the launch of this project, there is no treatment, cure, or vaccine for COVID-19.
Scientists at Scripps Research are doing molecular modeling simulations to look for possible candidates for the development of treatments for COVID-19, but to be successful they need massive computing power to carry out millions of simulated laboratory experiments.
So Scripps Research is partnering with World Community Grid, an IBM social impact initiative that allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to donate their device’s computing power to help scientists study the world’s biggest problems in health and sustainability. By using this donated computing power, the scientists aim to identify promising chemical compounds for further laboratory testing.
The research team wants not only to help find treatments for COVID-19, but also to create a fast-response, open source toolkit that will help all scientists quickly search for treatments for future pandemics. And in keeping with World Community Grid's open data policy, all data and tools that are developed through this project will be shared freely in the scientific community.
The project’s primary goal 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, 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.
How You Can Help
As a World Community Grid volunteer, you download a secure software program to your computer. And when your computer is not using its full computing power, it will automatically run a simulated experiment in the background which will help predict the effectiveness of a particular chemical compound as a possible treatment for COVID-19.Then, your computer contacts the World Community Grid server to let it know that it has completed the simulation, which is automatically and securely sent back to us.
All of this happens unobtrusively, while you are going about your regular activities such as typing an email, browsing the internet, or while your computer is idle but left on.
World Community Grid receives the results you send back (often called work units or research tasks), combines them with hundreds of thousands of results from other volunteers all over the world, and sends them to the Scripps Research team. The researchers then begin the difficult work of analyzing the data. While this process doesn't happen overnight, it accelerates what would otherwise take many years, or might even be impossible.