Help Find-a-Drug fight AIDS!
Tuesday 1 July 2003
Find-a-Drug is pleased to announce the start of its HIV project. 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.
The region of the world most affected by AIDS is sub-Saharan Africa, where over 23 million adults and children are currently living with HIV/AIDS and more than 13 million have died, accounting for more than 80% of the world's deaths due to AIDS. In Africa alone, 10,000 people become infected each day, according to UNAIDS1 For many of these individuals the prospects are bleak: the life-time costs of the current generation of drugs are economically crippling and the medical care facilities are limited with the consequence that most sufferers face a miserable life and early death. New mutations of HIV threaten the effectiveness of current antiretroviral drugs and are challenging scientists to find better drugs.
"I am excited by this approach to identify potential new drugs", comments Dr Ian Gilbert of the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University, who is collaborating with Find-a-Drug. "The scale of this project might allow us to find a molecule which is effective against the human immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS."
"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 871670 or 07879 495105
The Welsh School of Pharmacy is one of the UK's leading academic research institutions for medicinal chemistry, and received a 5A ranking in the 2001 RAE. Dr Ian Gilbert is a Senior Lecturer in the department with interests in design and preparation of anti-infective drugs. His research group uses computational methods to help them decide which molecules to make and test.
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.
1. AIDS Epidemic Update, UNAIDS 1999