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Grid computing offers new hope in race against bird flu
Date:10/5/2007

Budapest, 4 October 2007 -- Last month a collaboration of European and Asian researchers launched a new attack against the deadly bird flu virus, harnessing the combined power of more than 40,000 computers across 45 countries to boost the pace of anti-viral drug discovery.

Called Enabling Grids for E-sciencE, the computing grid connects ordinary PCs to form a super-sized supercomputer that is being used during this challenge to analyse the potential of more than 500,000 drug-like molecules over the next few weeks.

This effort comes as new data released last week by Peking University in Beijing, China, shows that the H5N1 bird flu virus can pass through the placenta of pregnant women to the unborn fetus, and can infect organs other than the lungs in adults. A rapid response to any pandemic outbreak of the virus would be essential to its control.

Dr Ying-Ta Wu, biologist at the Genomics Research Center of the Academia Sinica, says computing grids like EGEE are the fastest and cheapest way to discover new drug leads.

We are using EGEE to find new molecules that can inhibit the activities of the influenza virus, Dr Ying-Ta Wu explains During previous challenges using the EGEE grid we discovered about 200 molecules with the potential to become drugs against bird flu.

The EGEE computing grid powers drug discovery software that allows researchers to compute the probability that a drug-like molecule will dock with active sites on the virus and thus inhibit its action. Using the results of such in silico screening, researchers can predict which compounds are most effective at blocking the virus. This accelerates the discovery of novel potent inhibitors by minimising the non-productive trial-and-error approach in a laboratory.

Asian flu remains a threat to world health and we are well aware that any pandemic could quickly spread throughout Europe" said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and
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Contact: Sarah Purcell
sarah.purcell@cern.ch
41-227-674-176
CERN
Source:Eurekalert

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