"The sheer power of volunteered devices never ceases to amaze us", stated Paul Kirchoff, vice president of marketing at United Devices. "United Devices is proud to contribute the software and infrastructure which manages participation and workload distribution in a scaleable and secure manner."
The Cancer Research Project began in April 2001 as collaboration between United Devices' Grid MPTM Global Grid software and expertise provided by researchers from Oxford University as an ongoing research project for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. The project is now nearing completion of Phase II of its in silico screening for anti-cancer drugs. Phase I screened a database of 3,5 billion possible drug molecules and produced a very large number of hits: far more than could be synthesized and tested. All of these targets have now been taken through Phase II, with the exception of superoxide dismutase, which proved to be unsuitable for further work.
Developing methods for selecting the best hits for follow-up from the Phase I list has been the focus of Phase II. The Cancer Research Grid is close to having a reasonable number of novel suggestions for synthesis and testing and is drawing toward a conclusion. "We envision that these experimental results will help us to refine and improve our testing methods", stated Professor Graham Richards, chairman of the chemistry department at Oxford University. "Once this has been achieved, we will need to engage industrial partners to perform the necessary development work, which will lead to the discovery of genuine and novel cancer drug candidates."
Late in 2003, grid.org members also saw the completion of the Smallpox Research Grid project. The smallpox project, which was launched in February of last year, made use of the idle time of home computers around the world in order to find a drug to combat the effects of the smallpox virus after infection. Volunteers contributed over 39.000 years of computing time during the six months the project lasted. Thirty-five million potential drug molecules were screened against eight models of the smallpox protein to determine if any of the drug-like molecules would bind to the smallpox protein, rendering it inactive. Preliminary results have dramatically narrowed the field of molecules that can be considered lead candidates for the next phase of research.
On September 30th, representatives from United Devices, Accelrys and IBM took the stage at the British Embassy in Washington DC to hand over the results of the Smallpox Research Grid to the U.S. Department of Defense. The results were given to the Army's Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and will be tested in lab experiments on their efficacy against Monkey Pox, similar in structure to smallpox. The results will then go to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, the only site in the United States where experiments are done with the actual smallpox virus.
United Devices designs and builds customizable commercial Grid solutions for its customers to deliver products and services to market more quickly and cost-effectively. This is done by aggregating PCs, workstations and servers on a network and turning them into a virtual supercomputer capable of running a wide range of high-performance computing applications in a number of industries, including life sciences, geosciences, and financial services.
For more information on United Devices' efforts in cancer and smallpox research, we invite you to read the following VMW articles: