Help Defeat Cancer . . . with Your Computer
California Breast Cancer Research Program Joins World Community Grid™
Imagine if the power of each of the world’s estimated 650 million PCs were linked to focus on defeating cancer.
To make this dream a reality, the California Breast Cancer Research Program has become a partner of World Community Grid™, joining the IBM Corporation and a group of more than 225 leading associations, universities, companies, and foundations.
Launched by the IBM Corporation in November 2004, World Community Grid™ uses grid technology to harness the plentiful, underutilized resource of PCs and laptops worldwide to support humanitarian research. Today, hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the globe are donating their idle computer cycles, and World Community Grid™ is harnessing this power to help advance promising humanitarian research projects. Results on critical health issues have already been achieved, demonstrating World Community Grid’s potential to make significant inroads on a great range of future projects that can benefit the world.
On July 20, 2006, World Community Grid™ launched a new effort that will assist in cancer research using the massive computational power of World Community Grid™. The “Help Defeat Cancer” project will use World Community Grid™ to analyze tissue microarrays (TMA) – a new investigative tool that will ultimately help doctors select proper treatments and provide accurate prognosis for cancer patients.
“As a result of the Help Defeat Cancer project, World Community Grid makes it possible to analyze in one day the number of specimens that would take approximately 130 years to complete using a traditional computer,” said 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 program of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “Without World Community Grid, TMAs are processed in individual or small batches that are analyzed on standard computers.”
Through TMA, researchers arrange micro-sections of hundreds of different, but related, cancer specimens (or tissue samples) on a single microscope glass slide. The specimens are carefully selected and organized so that researchers can compare them to each other. Currently, the methods to evaluate tissue microarrays involve the manual, interactive review of samples or the digitizing of samples for quantitative assessment. Both procedures are slow, tedious, and prone to human error.
Researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University and UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, created a web-based, robotic prototype that can automatically analyze, archive, share, and create images of digitized tissue microarrays, which will allow scientists to better study cancer and its effects. World Community Grid™ will take this work to a new level by deploying massive computer power to enable more complex comparisons to run much more quickly and accurately.
Ultimately, the project will give researchers improved understanding of cancer biology and uncover new sub-classifications of cancer that will then point to new courses of treatment. They also will have unparalleled insight into which patient populations are most likely to respond to a given treatment regimen, while also providing information needed for future drug design.
“World Community Grid is a promising and innovative way of allowing us to assist in providing more accurate, timely, and well targeted cancer diagnoses and to make a difference on problems that plague humanity,” said Marion Kavanaugh-Lynch, Director of the California Breast Cancer Research Program. “We are proud to be a partner and help further this important research effort.”
“Help Defeat Cancer” is the third project that will take advantage of the enormous computational power offered by World Community Grid™. Since November 2005, World Community Grid™ has been running FightAIDS@Home, which is working on finding new and effective drugs to stop the HIV virus. To date, the project has virtually screened 2,000 drug compounds against 270 wild type and mutant HIV proteases and has discovered potential leads to new therapies. Work that would have taken five years to complete was done in six months on World Community Grid™. More information about the project can be found here: www.worldcommunitygrid.org/projects_showcase/viewHdcResearch.do.
In November 2004, World Community Grid™ launched the Human Proteome Folding
Project, which is helping scientists understand the functions of human
proteins and, ultimately, how to cure diseases like malaria and lyme disease.
project produced a database that describes the structure of approximately
150,000 protein domains that could not be described previously using traditional
approaches. This database of protein structures will help scientists take
the next steps to understanding how diseases that involve these proteins
work and, ultimately, clues to help cure diseases like cancer, malaria, and
A second phase of the project is focusing on human-secreted proteins, which
are often key markers for diagnosis of diseases.
The California Breast Cancer Research Program is encouraging our community to contribute their idle computer cycles to World Community Grid™. To join, go to www.worldcommunitygrid.org and simply download and install a free, small software program on your computer. Then sign up for the CBCRP team and select the “Help Defeat Cancer” project. When idle, your computer requests data from World Community Grid’s server. The computer then performs computations using this data, sends the results back to the server, and prompts the server for a new piece of work.
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