goal: to understand protein function and
related molecular biology
There is a tremendous amount of processing power distributed throughout the world in home computers that have a modern Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) card. These cards typically have dozens to hundreds of separate processors, which can be used to work on highly parallel tasks. Although intended for games and graphic applications, they are also now being successfully utilized as an aid to scientific research, computational biology in this case.
GPUgrid.net is a project that conducts molecular simulations on such a distributed ‘grid’. Anyone with a modern nVIDIA GPU can participate (see the currently supported cards list on the GPUgrid website).
HIV Protease is a viral enzyme that helps in the assembly of HIV virions. Understanding its structure and function is computationally time consuming but crucial in the development of inhibitors to target this protease.
Brain function studies are being aided by the simulation of the molecular dynamics of the D2 Dopamine receptor and associated mobility of sodium ions.
Protein-protein binding affinities are being calculated using the Sarcoma Homology 2 protein domain. This is important in understanding diseases where cell growth and development are impaired.
Various other molecular simulations are underway or planned.
To join the effort, you need only install a ‘client’ on your PC. This client is a small piece of software that usually runs in the background. Participation in this effort by the general public is free, easy to do, and strongly encouraged. Their website has pictures, animations, documentation, etc.