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Home > iSGTW - 20 May 2009 > Link of the week - WCG quickly launches influenza project

Link of the week - IBM and WCG quickly launch influenza treatment project


The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus (shown above), killing more than 500,000 people in the United States, and up to 50 million worldwide. The possible source was a newly emerged virus from a swine or an avian host of a mutated H1N1 virus. Many people died within the first few days after infection, and others died of complications later. Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults. Influenza A (H1N1) viruses still circulate today after being introduced again into the human population in the 1970s.

Image courtesy of CDC's public health image library (#8160)

Lab tests on drug candidates for drug-resistant influenza strains and new strains, such as H1N1, may begin in just weeks — thanks to World Community Grid

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch will run virtual chemistry experiments on the World Community Grid to identify the chemical compounds most likely to attach to influenza viruses and stop them from spreading.

The computational work adds up to thousands of years of computer time, but will be compressed into just months using World Community Grid. As many as 10% of the drug candidates identified by calculations on World Community Grid are likely to show antiviral activity when they move to further testing in the laboratory.

Influenza claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year. The recent H1N1 virus outbreak is a reminder of how quickly influenza mutates and how easily new strains of the virus emerge. New flu vaccines are needed every year because of the speed at which the virus changes. Each year, new strains of influenza virus increasingly show resistance to available drugs.

Read IBM's full press release.

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