The OpenZika project is an effort led by Brazilian researchers to use the collective power of idling computers worldwide to screen millions of compounds for potential drug therapies against the Zika virus.

Researchers around the world are racing to develop vaccines and drugs against Zika as it has continued to spread. We’ve seen a few Zika apps come out supporting that effort in different ways. OpenZika is an IBM World Community Grid Project that will use the collective computing power of nearly a million computers to screen tens of millions of compounds in various databases against the Zika virus to identify potential candidates for further research.

That approach has been applied to many other challenges where the scale of data to be analyzed is enormous and would require tremendous computing power. Last year, we covered a similar effort aimed at investigating cancer genetics.

OpenZika will screen nearly 150 million candidate compounds against several key viral proteins, looking for compounds that have high affinity for these proteins. They’ll also apply several additional layers of analysis to try to prioritize candidate compounds for further research. And most importantly, the results will be released into the public domain so any researcher can pick up the baton on any compound and run with it for in vitro and in vivo testing.

Source: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases