Researchers and scientists are hard at work trying to figure out what makes certain diseases tick. At the time of this writing Covid-19 is the 800lb gorilla that the medical community is trying to chase down, but let’s not forget about Alzheimers, Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and of course Kidney Disease among so many others.
One of the avenues researchers are investigating is the science of how certain proteins fold to make up the necessary systems in the human body and how they can cause (and help cure) diseases. I won’t pretend to be an expert on folding – I know next to nothing as a matter of fact. So here’s a snippet from the folks at Folding@Home:
Folding refers to the way human protein folds in the cells that make up your body. We rely on the proteins to keep us healthy and they assemble themselves by folding. But when they misfold, there can be serious consequences to a person’s health.
Folding@Home is a project dedicated to disease research. Since this research requires a lot of computing power, the approach they use is to delegate out units of work to volunteers who run the Folding@Home utility on their computers. With this software you can download the assigned units and your computer will perform the necessary computations and send it back up to the research site where they put the pieces back together and do all the sciency stuff that is over my head. But that’s the nice part – we can be completely science illiterate and still help out.
The @Home concept isn’t a new one. There are a large amount of projects out there in other areas (though typically science related) that use shared computing resources in this manner. If you’ve heard of the classic Seti@Home project which searches for evidence of extraterrestial life, the work is similar.
Are you interested in taking part in this process and potentially being the volunteer that opens the door to a cure for a disease? I recommend checking out the Folding@Home website to learn more about who they are, how the process works and how to install the software on your computer. Speaking on my own experience, the installation to my Fedora desktop was very easy (it does require an account on their site so they can manage the work), so I expect it will be just as easy if not more so for Windows and Mac users.
If you do decide to take the jump, please consider joining the Folding@Unfiltered team which at this time consists solely of yours truly. Let me know how your experience goes!
Go to Folding@Home.
Join our team Folding@Unfiltered!