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Supercomputer Grid Enlists PCs To Combat AIDS

A new project, launched with the aim to combat AIDS will exploit the unused power of thousands of individual and business computers around the world to aid research and identify drugs used to combat the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).//

The Internet-based initiative, called FightAIDS@Home, aims to enlist about 100,000 computer users to donate the use of their machines via a secure website when they would otherwise be idle.

This is the second research project using the network of computers, called the World Community grid, funded by IBM. The grid's first major set of computations, through the Human Proteome Folding Project, are 99 percent done, according to Robin Willner, Vice President of IBM Global Initiatives.

The World Community Grid invites volunteers to download Rosetta software, which runs during idle time. The virtual supercomputer solves scientific problems and creates public databases for scientific research.

The virtual supercomputer grid, created by IBM, will test thousands of HIV mutations against tens of thousands of chemical compounds that could eventually help scientists design effective therapies to stop potential drug-resistant viral strains from causing AIDS, according to Willner.

The San Diego based Scripps Research Institute hopes that by being able to tap into the vast reservoir of computer processing power, researchers will be able to approach problems more aggressively and develop new chemical strategies to treat HIV-infected individuals.

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