How you can help conduct research on coronavirus drugs by not using your computer

Posted at 6:59 AM, Mar 18, 2020

If you're reading this on a computer — really, if you own a working computer — you can to help find a potential treatment for coronavirus.

Folding@Home, a project that uses the collective computing power of thousands of computers around the world to simulate protein dynamics, is attempting to find ways to treat COVID-19.

By downloading the Folding@Home software and letting it run simulations when your computer is idle, like when you're asleep (and totally not scrolling through some quality quarantmemes on phone), you're helping scientists in the Bowman Lab at the University of Washington in St. Louis understand how the coronavirus' proteins work, and how to design therapeutics to stop them.

Folding@Home is similar to the long-running project SETI@Home, which is, unfortunately, ending the volunteer program this month. It uses distributed computing to analyze radio telescope data in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

By donating your spare computational power to Folding@Home, you'll be a part of one of the world's fastest computing systems, running at a speed of about 98.7 petaFLOPS, according to recent statistics from the site. That's 10 to the 15th power FLOPS. A 98,000 teraFLOPS. The Titan Supercomputer cranks out a measly 20 petaFLOPS.

Folding@Home recently simulated a protein from Ebola virus that was considered undruggable, and after performing experiments confirming that prediction, they're now on the hunt for drugs to bind to this newly discovered site.

Learn more about the project here.

This story was originally published by Ian Cross on WEWS in Cleveland.

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