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Your computer can help scientists seeking COVID-19 treatments: IBM

IBM's World Community Grid hosts Scripps Research project to help scientists virtually screen chemical compounds that might help fight COVID-19

April 1, 2020  by CM Staff

IBM announced on April 1 that anyone with a PC, laptop or Mac and an Internet connection could help scientists seek chemical compounds that might be effective against COVID-19.

Volunteers’ devices will perform small, virtual experiments to identify chemical compounds, including those in existing medicines, that could potentially be used as treatments candidates for COVID-19.

Compounds that show promise for treating COVID-19 will undergo further testing and analysis.

The project called “OpenPandemics – COVID-19,” was designed and led by Scripps Research, and will be hosted on IBM’s World Community Grid.

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Volunteers download an app that works when their devices are otherwise idle or in light use. Operating unobtrusively in the background without slowing users’ systems, the app distributes computational assignments and returns completed calculations to researchers, all via the IBM cloud.

Volunteers need not have any special technical expertise to participate; the process is automatic. Personal information is never shared, and the software cannot access personal or business files.

With IBM’s World Community Grid crowdsourcing power from thousands of computing devices, the project could help scientists accelerate the drug discovery or drug re-purposing process, according to the tech firm.

Data generated by this effort will be made publicly available.

“IBM’s World Community Grid is a resource that not only empowers scientists to accelerate vital work on a large scale, but also gives volunteers a sense of empowerment, joining with others all over the globe to make a difference,” said Guillermo Miranda, VP and head of corporate social responsibility at IBM in a prepared statement. “During a time of social distancing and isolation, this sense of purpose and interconnectedness is as important as ever.”