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Internet helps scientists find treatments for COVID-19

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By Juliano Oliveira

Worldwide users of Android smartphone, laptop, PC or Mac have a chance to contribute with scientists in the development of treatments for COVID-19.

Scientists at Scripps Research, a biosciences institute, are conducting molecular modelling simulations in an attempt to find potential therapeutic agents that could help managing the symptoms, halting the progression of the disease, and ultimately speed healing from COVID-19.

A partnership between the institute and World Community Grid, an IBM social impact initiative, is the gateway for volunteers who wish to help in the search for solutions against the virus.

What the scientists need to successfully accomplish this mission is a massive computing power to carry out millions of simulated laboratory experiments.

Potential interested must download a software program to their computer. When the processor 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.

As soon as it finishes, the volunteer’s computer contacts the World Community Grid server to let it know that it has completed the simulation.

“With thousands of computing devices hard at work, the project can easily perform hundreds of millions of calculations in pursuit of drug candidates. Manually screening thousands of compounds could take much longer in a traditional laboratory or with fewer computers,” says Juan Hindo, Program Manager.

“These millions of virtual experiments, performed on World Community Grid volunteers’ devices on behalf of Scripps researchers, will predict which chemical compounds are likely to be effective at fighting COVID-19. Those compounds that show promise will then undergo further testing and analysis.”

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.

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