Home > Uncategorized > Use your computer’s spare time to help #cure #diseases. @rosettaathome

Use your computer’s spare time to help #cure #diseases. @rosettaathome

rosetta

If  you leave your office PC on all night, whether to tun nightly tests, or long tasks, then there is something more useful you can do with your computer’s time, that can really give back to society.

By installing Rosetta@home (boinc.bakerlab.org) – your computer can be used to run virtual experiments on proteins that could one day lead to a cure to a disease.

It doesn’t  lock up your computer, your computer is still usable, and you can pause it whenever you want. It just means that your PC can do something truly useful during the night, when it would normally just be consuming electricity.

But what is the experiment?, I’m not a biologist, so I can just say in layman’s terms. – Our bodies have DNA in every cell. DNA is nature’s way of encoding millions of different types of Proteins. These are chemicals that do everything the body needs, literally.

Proteins are encoded in blocks called “Amino acids”, which are chained together, then curl up into complex 3D shapes. It is the shape of these chemicals that define the function of the Protein, and thus, what it does, and more importantly, if it can be modified to do something else – perhaps preventing a virus entering a cell, or recognising a cancer.

These complex shapes are often not experimentally view-able in the real world, if the protein cannot be made in enough quantity to be seen under under NMR or X-Rays – so it’s up to computers to take these long chains of amino acids, and fold them virtually, to a point where the shape is stable, and of least energy. It’s like having a thousand elastic bands tied together, and seeing what shape it would fall into when it fell.

So, It’s great work, and if your computer needs to be left on, then this is a great way to use it’s spare capacity for the betterment of society. Of course, if it doesn’t need to be left on, then turn it off, and stop contributing to global warming ! 🙂

 

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