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IBM joins race to find Ebola treatment

Partners with Scripps Research Institute to get public to support research via their computers

Scripps Research Institute is calling for the public to support research into Ebola treatments

The IT giant IBM has teamed up with Scripps Research Institute on a project to support research into Ebola treatments using computers belonging to members of the public.

The project, known as Outsmart Ebola Together, encourages individuals to sign up to donate the computing power of their idle devices so researchers can utilise them to screen for potential Ebola drugs.

According to IBM, the network of computers will enable researchers to screen millions of chemical compounds to find bodies that can kill proteins of the virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people in West Africa since the outbreak began in the summer of 2014.

Members of the public who have a computer or Android device can sign up to the World Community Grid to donate computing power. Volunteers can also donate to Scripps' crowd-funding campaign to help the Institute obtain additional resources to analyse the huge volumes of compound data.

Scripps posted a video to promote the campaign (see above) in which Prof Erica Ollmann Saphire states that the support from the public could help let them “do in weeks what would take them hundreds of years otherwise”.

To date, the crowd-funding campaign has raised over $100,000 of the $175,000 target, enabling Scripps to purchase equipment for the lab that enables the team of researchers to process the hundreds of samples currently arriving from around the world.

The next target is for Scripps to hire a postdoctoral fellow with computational experience to analyse the data generated by volunteers.

The hunt for an effective Ebola treatment has become a priority for organisations working in healthcare research, including several pharma companies.

GlaxoSmithKline is leading the way with its vaccine candidate ChAd3-EBO, which has proven to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response during phase I trials.

Close behind is Johnson & Johnson, which has pledged to distributed more than a million doses of its investigational vaccine in 2015.

Merck & Co is also working on a vaccine having recently bought the rights to an investigational candidate from NewLink Genetics.

To sign up to donate your idle computing power visit www.worldcommunitygrid.org

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

5th December 2014

From: Research, Sales, Marketing, Healthcare

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