IBM announced a new project led by researchers in Japan, Hong Kong, and Connecticut that will leverage the World Community Grid to rapidly screen candidate drugs for use in childhood cancers.
IBM is certainly no stranger to healthcare, with Watson Health working on everything from reading imaging studies to recommending chemotherapy protocols. The World Community Grid is another IBM project that lets people contribute idle time on their computers and mobile devices to a variety of research projects, creating a crowdsourced supercomputer that can crunch enormous amounts of data at much lower costs.
In the Smash Childhood Cancer project, volunteers will share the processing power of their idling devices to basically conduct high-throughput screening of chemical compounds and drugs against various drugs. Presumably, they’ll be looking for potential affinity to known therapeutic targets for these different malignancies (eg screening for something that may bind to an important signaling protein in a certain cancer).
We covered another similar project last year that launched at the height of the Zika epidemic, aiming to identify candidate drugs for further testing. As of November, the team had identified five candidate compounds that could target an enzyme important for Zika virus replication.