A group of researchers from three countries has created software that allows anyone who has a computer staff to contribute to the search for drugs against the COVID-19.
“We have created “the computer” the most powerful in the world and its computing power is used to virtually test all the drugs and all the molecules available on earth in order to find the ones that can block the effectiveness of the COVID-19″, explains Lucie Delamotte, a researcher in molecular physics at The Royal Institute of technology Sweden.
The principle is simple. All the people who want it, can install a software named “foldinghome” on their computer. This software will run without that this prevents a user to navigate the computer for other tasks.
The software will receive thousands of virtual molecules (in the form of algorithms) that it will compare with the virus of the COVID-19. “It is as if we had a piece of the puzzle, and we received thousands of boxes of puzzle pieces. A person would not all the compare. Each machine can do so at an incredible speed”, she argues.
The researcher explains that there are billions of billions of possibilities to test, and it is there that the global network of computers that makes the difference. “We compare all the pieces of the puzzles that exists in the world with our master piece, which is the COVID-19”, image-t-it.
Since the onset of the virus, the program “foldinghome” has seen the number of users from 10 000 pcs to more than a million at the time of writing these lines.
The program, which has seen the light of day in the early 2000s at Stanford University, is managed from the University of Washington in St. Louis. A dozen universities and laboratories in Hong Kong, the United States and Sweden participate in the project.
Several giants of the computer contribute to it, and the security company computer Avasst and support to prevent people catch a computer virus while trying to find a cure to a biological virus.
Foldinghome has worked on many other projects since 20 years and has contributed to advancing the research of drugs against many diseases, such as breast cancer and even Ebola.
“It is not we who develop the cure. We are here to say to the researchers who work in labs : “these are the molecules the most promising. It saves them a lot of time. And it is thanks to all those who help us in sharing a little power of their computer,” explains Dr Delamote.
A computer expert finds that it is quite safe because it is little known and that a company computer anti-virus is involved. “Usually, the criminals will attack the big. It is excellent that there is a company anti-virus. More the application will become known and the more there will be risks. We must always remain vigilant,” explains Patrick Mathieu, co-founder of the Hackfest, a company specializing in computer security.