Help Find-a-Drug fight CJD!

Monday 7 March 2005
Find-a-Drug, Evesham, UK

Find-a-Drug is pleased to announce the start of its CJD project which aims to find molecules which have the potential to be used in the treatment of CJD. The success of this project depends on members of the public volunteering their computer's free time. By harnessing the power of thousands of home PCs connected to the Internet, distributed computing software has the potential to significantly accelerate drug research: many more molecules can be evaluated in shorter periods of time than other approaches.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare but fatal neurodegenerative disease for which there is no effective treatment. New variant CJD is associated with eating beef from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The number of cases and reported deaths in the UK is still fortunately less than 200 but has grown significantly since 1990. The 2003 annual report of the CJD Surveillance Unit in the UK suggests that the number of cases has passed its peak although there are still concerns that the number of cases may reach epidemic proportions. Our understanding of the disease is still incomplete and the incubation period is largely a matter for speculation.

Find-a-Drug is collaborating with Dr Beining Chen of Sheffield University Chemistry Department. Her research group uses computer modelling to help decide which molecules to make and test. Dr Chen comments "Our main focus now is to develop novel drugs for prion disease to cure Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), especially for vCJD in humans". The research at Sheffield benefits from funding by the Department of Health and the Find-a-Drug project is expected to identify many more molecules to consider making and testing.

"The THINK software allows hundreds of millions of molecules to be evaluated as potential new drug molecules", comments Keith Davies, Scientific Director of Find-a-Drug. PCs participating in the project process sets of 10,000 molecules downloaded from the Internet. When the PC is not being used by its owner, the software evaluates each molecule in turn and explores possible interactions with a protein target. Molecules which are predicted to inhibit the target protein are returned to Find-a-Drug as "hits".

PC owners may participate in the project by downloading the THINK software and molecules from http://www.find-a-drug.org. The information about protein and molecule data as well are encrypted to ensure that it is securely transmitted between the PCs and Find-a-Drug Internet servers. This is a necessary and valuable precaution in order to prevent the introduction of a harmful agent such as a virus on to the computers. Once installed, the software does not require any interaction by the owner, nor does it impact on normal use of the PC because it runs in the background.

To participate visit www.find-a-drug.org.

For further information please contact:

Tel: Keith Davies +44 1386 870153 or 07879 495105
E-mail: Keith.Davies@find-a-drug.org

About Find-a-Drug

Find-a-Drug was set up in 2002 by Treweren Consultants (Evesham, UK) as a non-profit organisation using Internet-based computing for drug discovery. In addition to CJD, Find-a-Drug is pursuing some cancer research targets, continuing some work started in collaboration with United Devices (Austin, Texas) and Oxford University. The software also has the potential to be used for finding new drugs for other diseases including HIV, Respiratory Diseases (including TB), SARS, Malaria and Multiple Sclerosis. Initial experimental validations of the computer predictions are very promising. At present, over 40,000 PCs from nearly 70 countries have registered with Find-a-Drug and evaluated nearly 40 billion molecules as inhibitors to various proteins.

Sheffield University is well regarded in the UK and internationally with a grade 5 rating chemistry department. It has a well established tradition in Chemical Research, Chemical Biology and chemical information.

Keith Davies has worked in the field of computational chemistry for over 20 years. He founded Chemical Design in 1983, where he was Technical Director and CEO. Chemical Design gained the Queens Award for Export in 1988 and was listed on the London Stock Market (AIM) in 1996. In 1998, Keith sold his remaining shares in the company to Oxford Molecular Plc.