Help Defeat Cancer Project launched on IBM's World Community Grid expected to speed cancer research

Armonk 20 July 2006IBM is working with researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey to launch a project that will unleash the power of supercomputer technology in the battle against cancer. Help Defeat Cancer is the third project to use the enormous computational power offered by World Community Grid, the world's largest humanitarian Grid housing a virtual supercomputer. The Help Defeat Cancer project is expected to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer in order to improve treatment and therapy planning for cancer patients.


IBM will use its information technology capabilities to power the Help Defeat Cancer project on World Community Grid for a minimum of three months. The project will give researchers an opportunity to analyse large numbers of cancer tissue microarrays (TMAs) simultaneously allowing multiple experiments to be conducted in shorter periods of time.

"As a result of the Help Defeat Cancer project, World Community Grid makes it possible to analyse in one day the number of specimens that would take approximately 130 years to complete using a traditional computer", stated Dr. David J. Foran, lead researcher and professor of pathology and director of the Center for Biomedical Imaging at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and co-director of the Immunohistochemistry shared resources programme of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. "Without World Community Grid, TMAs are processed in individual or small batches that are analysed on standard computers."

Researchers believe the speed and sophistication of World Community Grid could make it possible to detect and track subtle changes in measurable parameters that could facilitate the discovery of prognosis clues, which are not apparent by human inspection or traditional analysis alone. Researchers have already created a Web-based, robotic prototype to automatically image, analyse, archive and share tissue microarrays. The Help Defeat Cancer project will begin with the analysis of breast cancer TMAs followed by an analysis involving head and neck cancers.

"It is a true testament to the quality of research being conducted at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey to be part of a project that could quite literally change the way cancer research is performed", stated Dr. William N. Hait, director of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and associated dean of Oncology programmes and professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Through World Community Grid anyone can donate idle and unused time from their computer by downloading World Community Grid's free software and registering at Fast, easy, safe and secure, more than 200.000 individuals are now volunteering power from more than 360.000 computers to advance cancer research through World Community Grid. Computers running Windows, Linux or Mac operating systems can all participate in World Community Grid.

Launched in November 2004, World Community Grid is a global humanitarian effort that applies the unused computing power of individual and business computers to help solve the world's most difficult and societal problems. There are more than 650 million PCs in use around the world, each a potential participant in World Community Grid. Grid computing is a rapidly emerging technology than can bring together the collective power of thousands and even millions of individual computers to create a giant "virtual" system with massive computational strength. Grid technology provides processing power far in excess of the world's largest supercomputers. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is a World Community Grid partner.

"This technology is especially exciting not only because it offers tremendous potential for breakthroughs in cancer research, but also because the Help Defeat Cancer project provides individuals with an easy way to get involved in the fight", stated Mitch Stoller, president and CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. "World Community Grid is a perfect fit for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and our belief that unity is strength. We will support this initiative by installing the software on all Foundation computers, and we encourage everyone with a computer to likewise assist in this critical work. Together, we can make a tremendous difference to people affected by cancer."

"World Community Grid is a true demonstration of innovation that matters for the world", stated Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation and vice president of IBM Corporate Community Relations. "Anyone, anywhere in the world who has a computer can join the battle against cancer."

The Help Defeat Cancer project is an extension of two other National Institutes of Health funded projects that Dr. Foran leads. All three projects are collaborative efforts among researchers at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is New Jersey's only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is dedicated to improving the prevention, detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer. CINJ's physician-scientists engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of 17 hospitals throughout the state and provides a mechanism to rapidly disseminate important discoveries into the community. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the United States' largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates a University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.

More news about the World Community Grid can be found in the VMW December 2005 article World Community Grid targets AIDS in giant research effort.

Leslie Versweyveld

[Medical IT News][Calendar][Virtual Medical Worlds Community][News on Advanced IT]