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Category : Protein Folding

Thousands of These Computers Were Mining Cryptocurrency. Now They’re Working on Coronavirus Research – CoinDesk – Coindesk

CoreWeave, the largest U.S. miner on the Ethereum blockchain, is redirecting the processing power of 6,000 specialized computer chips toward research to find a therapy for the coronavirus.

These graphics processing units (GPUs) will be pointed toward Stanford University's Folding@home, a long-standing research effort that unveiled a project on Feb. 27 specifically to boost coronavirus research by way of a unique approach to developing pharmaceutical drugs: connecting thousands of computers from around the world to form a distributed supercomputer for disease research.

CoreWeave co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Brian Venturo said the project has at least a shot at finding a drug for the virus. As such, CoreWeave has responded by doubling the power of the entire network with its GPUs, which are designed to handle repetitive calculations.

According to Venturo, those 6,000 GPUs made up about 0.2 percent of Ethereum's total hashrate, earning roughly 28 ETH per day, worth about $3,600 at press time.

There is no cure for the coronavirus just yet (though various groups are working on vaccines and research to combat the disease, including IBM's supercomputer). Venturo noted that Folding@home has been used to contribute to breakthroughs in the creation of other important drugs.

"Their research had profound impacts on the development of front-line HIV defense drugs, and we are hoping our [computing power] will aid in the fight against coronavirus," Venturo said.

The coronavirus is taking a toll across the world. Italy and Spain are on lockdown. Conferences, stores and restaurants are closing to stem the spread of the disease; by stoking fears, it's slamming the financial markets in the process.

World computer

When the idea of using GPUs for coronavirus research was mentioned to CoreWeave, the team didn't think twice.

They had a test system up and running "within minutes," Venturo said. Since then, the project quickly snowballed. CoreWeave has been contributing over half of the overall computing power going into the coronavirus wing of Folding@home.

"The idea of 'should we do this?' was never really brought up, it kind of just happened. We were all enthusiastic that we might be able to help," Venturo added.

Folding@home is a decentralized project in the same vein as Bitcoin. Instead of one research firm alone using a massive computer to do research, Folding@home uses the computing power of anyone who wants to participate from around the world even if it's just a single laptop with a little unused computing power to spare.

In this case, the computing power is used to find helpful information relating to the coronavirus. Much like in bitcoin mining, one user might detect a "solution" to the problem at hand, distributing this information to the rest of the group.

"Their protein simulations attempt to find potential 'pockets' where existing [U.S. federal agency Food and Drug Administration (FDA)] approved drugs or other known compounds could help inhibit or treat the virus," Venturo said.

Viruses have proteins "that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, we want to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them," a Folding@home blog post explains.

Simulating these proteins and then looking at them from different angles helps scientists to understand them better, with the potential of finding an antidote. Computers accelerate this process by shuffling through the variations very quickly.

"Our specialty is in using computer simulations to understand proteins moving parts. Watching how the atoms in a protein move relative to one another is important because it captures valuable information that is inaccessible by any other means," the post reads.

Long shot

Folding@home could use even more power. Venturo urges other GPU miners to join the cause.

Even without these calls for participation, though, miners of other cryptocurrencies are already independently taking action. Tulip.tools founder Johann Tanzer put out a call to action to Tezos bakers (that blockchains equivalent of miners) last week, promising to send the leading contributor to Folding@home a modest 15 XTZ, worth roughly $20 at press time.

The initiative blew up, to Tanzer's surprise. Though they might not be contributing as much power as CoreWeave, 20 groups of Tezos miners are now contributing a slice of their hashing power to the cause. Tanzer's pot has swelled to roughly $600 as Tezos users caught wind of the effort and donated.

But that's not to say all miners can participate. While GPUs are flexible, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), a type of chip designed specifically for mining, aren't, according to Venturo. Though ASICs are more powerful than GPUs, they're really only made for one thing: To mine cryptocurrency. This is one advantage Venturo thinks Ethereum has over Bitcoin, since GPU mining still works on the former, whereas the latter is now dominated by ASICs.

"This is one of the great things about the Ethereum mining ecosystem, it's basically the largest GPU compute resource on the planet. We were able to redeploy our hardware to help fight a global pandemic in minutes," Venturo said. (However, it's worth noting that Ethereum has seen ASICs enter the fray. Not to mention, ether miners might soon go extinct when a pivotal upgrade makes its way into the network.)

ASICs are useless for the Folding@Home effort, but if bitcoin miners have old GPUs lying around from the early days that they could contribute, too.

Even if other miners join up, though, it's still a long shot that the effort will lead to a helpful drug.

"After discussing with some industry experts [...] we believe the chance of success in utilizing the work done on Folding@Home to deliver a drug to market to be in the 2-5% range," Venturo said.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Thousands of These Computers Were Mining Cryptocurrency. Now They're Working on Coronavirus Research - CoinDesk - Coindesk

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How Ethereum Mining Rigs Can Help Battle the Coronavirus – Live Bitcoin News

Several cryptocurrency mining projects particularly those devoted to extracting new Ethereum tokens have been pulled away from their mining duties and been made to turn their attention towards coronavirus research.

The coronavirus was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As many as 245,000 people have been infected with the virus at the time of writing, while more than 11,000 deaths across the globe have been recorded.

Recently, world leaders such as President Donald Trump in the United States have declared a national emergency, while the governors of both California and New York have issued stay at home orders, asking that residents stay within their domiciles and limit their outdoor activities with others to stop the virus spread.

At this time, it seems like people need all the help they can get, and research regarding how to combat the virus is at an all-time high, but how, exactly, can crypto mining rigs help to get this done?

Its not so much that they help with the research aspect, but what they do have is high computational power enough so that the computers and devices conducting or holding present research can stay operational and functional during these stressing times, and its here where the mining rigs can serve great purpose.

Among the major companies working to better understand the problems and symptoms associated with the growing respiratory virus is Stanford Universitys Folding @home, which helps to develop therapeutic drugs. As recently as last month, the company was devoting much of its time, energy and resources towards establishing drugs and products designed to combat HIV, but now, it has shifted focus to work on coronavirus research.

One of the main things that Folding @home does is sort through protein structures of products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Proteins, depending on how theyre built, can lessen a disease or even fully treat it, and the venture is looking to see which proteins are available that could potentially bring the virus to its knees.

In a statement, the company explains:

Proteins have lots of moving parts, so we really want to see the protein in action. The structures we cant see experimentally may be the key to discovering a new therapeutic.

Right now, Folding @home and several other drug-related companies are getting their power from sources such as Core Weave, which is one of the largest Ethereum mining projects in the rural United States. At press time, Core Weave is dedicating mountains of computational power to these companies to assist in their time spend performing appropriate research.

The mining venture stated:

Core Weave is proud to support this effort with over 6,000 of our high-end GPUs.

As many as 20 separate companies are presently working on a coronavirus vaccine.

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How Ethereum Mining Rigs Can Help Battle the Coronavirus - Live Bitcoin News

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Creative Technology dedicates the processing power capacity of its media servers to scientific research to fight covid-19 disease. – EtNow.com

UK Creative Technology (CT) UK is home to hundreds of media servers, each with the latest in GPUs and processors. Ordinarily, these servers are key to delivering live events for clients, but following the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout Europe and beyond, and the related reduction in live events, CT has found itself in a position to get really creative with the technology. Fighting back against Coronavirus in the best way known, and this comes in the form of the Folding@Home project run by Stanford University.

CT London has set up a server farm, doing all it can to support this worthwhile project.

Researchers from all over the world can now use the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) capacity of the media servers to draw, calculate and analyse complex formulas and graphics in the global fight against COVID-19.

Folding@Home is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. These scientific COVID-19 projects focus on better understanding how these Coronaviruses interact with the human ACE2 receptor required for viral entry into human host cells, and how researchers might be able to interfere with them through the design of new therapeutic antibodies or small molecules that might disrupt their interaction. There is hope to take advantage of some of the new structural biology and biochemical data that is being rapidly released by researchers around the world who are working to understand these viruses and strategies for defeating them.

Since joining the Folding at Home Project, CT announces that several other NEP Group companies have also got on-board: Screenworks, Univate, and Bexel to name just a few.

Creative Technology Group is urging all companies in the audiovisual sector to join this project by making their processing power also available for scientific purposes. Researchers are especially in need of more high-spec GPUs to help, and all the GPU projects are devoted to potential drug targets for COVID-19 right now.

Help to fight COVID-19 by joining this worldwide distributed supercomputer. Please use the Creative Technology group number 240907 to contribute your capacity to its team. You can help by downloading the Folding@Home client to your computer and following the instructions to install it.

CT cant make ventilators, but it CAN fight COVID-19!

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Creative Technology dedicates the processing power capacity of its media servers to scientific research to fight covid-19 disease. - EtNow.com

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Join Team Hackaday To Crunch COVID-19 Through Folding@Home – Hackaday

Donate your extra computer cycles to combat COVID-19. The Folding@Home project uses computers from all over the world connected through the Internet to simulate protein folding. The point is to generate the data necessary to discover treatments that can have an impact on how this virus affects humanity. The software models protein folding in a search for pharmaceutical treatments that will weaken the virus ability to attack the human immune system. Think of this like mining for bitcoin but instead were mining for a treatment to Coronavirus.

Initially developed at Standford University and released in the year 2000, this isnt the first time Hackaday has advocated for Folding@Home. The Team Hackaday folding group was started by readers back in 2005 and that team number is still active, so lets pile on and work our way up the rankings. At the time of writing, were ranked 267 in the world, can we get back up to number 30 like we were in 2008? To use the comparison to bitcoin once again, this is like a mining pool except what we end up with is a show of goodwill, something I think we can all use right about now.

You can get set up in five minutes. The software package is just a few megabytes and configuration is minimal:

Thats about it, just open FAHControl and the software will connect to the Folding at Home servers and request a Work Unit (WU) part of the protein folding math puzzle currently being solved. Once it has a WU the software will solve that unit and upload the result. Rinse and repeat and youre a worker bee in a super-computer thats distributed throughout the world.

The F@H project is seeing a surge of new computers on the network. Because of this you may run into a situation where no new WUs are getting downloaded. I experienced this on Wednesday morning and believe its simply caused by the buffer of work running out and needing to be replenished. The nice thing is you dont need to do anything, so just let your instance run and itll get to work when more is available.

The software does allow you to use your GPU for much more efficient calculations, but that setup may be non-trivial and beyond the scope of this article. I suggest you just get the client up and running and then look to configure GPU as a later step.

Are you making a difference? Yes! But of course metrics tell this message the best. You can see the team summary above. This statistics page includes a user summary showing 21 active users right now, including the hackaday_wrencher instance I added when working on this article which is just beginning to score points.

This group has over 1600 members right now but most are inactive. Can we reactivate those? Can we double that number? Grab those gaming rigs and let the electrons flow. Folding@Home has made a huge impact on research over the last twenty years and now more than ever we can build on that groundwork by joining in to fight this global pandemic.

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Join Team Hackaday To Crunch COVID-19 Through Folding@Home - Hackaday

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How to Fight Coronavirus With Folding@home and a Gaming PC – How-To Geek

CDC / NVIDIA

Want to help in the battle against the novel coronavirus? You can put your PCs graphics processor to work with Folding@home. Youll join an army of computers running calculations to help scientists understand the virus.

Folding@home is a distributed computing project thats been around since the year 2000. Its named after protein folding. If you install the software and join a project, it will run in the background and use spare graphics processing (GPU) power to run calculations. Your PC will be one of the hundreds of thousands of PCs running these calculations, all working together.

The software has previously been used to help find cures to cancer, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, influenza, and many other diseases. Now, Folding@home is helping scientists understand the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. As Folding@home director Greg Bowman explains, a better understanding of the virus could aid in the development of life-saving drugs.

In other words, you can put your PCs GPU to work crunching numbers that will help scientists better understand and fight the novel coronavirus.You can read specifics about how Folding@home is simulating the dynamics of COVID-19 proteins to hunt for new therapeutic opportunities on the projects website.

This work is GPU-dependent and requires NVIDIA or AMD graphics hardware. It will work best on computers with powerful graphics hardware.

To put your PC to work battling coronavirus, download the Folding@home installer and run it to install the software. Its available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Well show how it works on Windows here.

Once youve installed the Folding@home software, youll be taken to thehttps://client.foldingathome.org/ page, where you can control the software on your PC. You can choose to fold anonymously or set up an identity.

If you set up an identity, you can track your work and earn points. You can even join a team with other people and compete to see who can earn the most pointsjust a bit of friendly competition.

However, you dont need to set up an identityyou can just select Fold as Anonymous and click Start Folding to begin.

To ensure youre helping with COVID-19 research, ensure Any disease is selected under the I support research fighting box. This is the default option. With it enabled, Folding@home will prioritize work related to the novel coronavirus.

Work may not be available immediately, and your client may work on other diseases like Alzheimers, cancer, Huntingtons, or Parkinsons while waiting for COVID-19 jobs. Leave it running in the background, and it will automatically start any available work.

The Folding@home software will remain running in the backgroundeven when you have the web page closed. It will automatically use any spare resources and get out of the way when youre using your GPU for other purposes, like playing a PC game.

Look for the Folding@home icon in your computers notification area (system tray) to find options, pause it, or quit the software and prevent it from running.

If you decide you no longer want to participate, head to the Uninstall or change a program list in Windows and uninstall the FAHClient program.

Even NVIDIA has called for gamers to install Folding@home and donate any spare computing power they might have. Computers all over the world are joining the fight.

For more information, take a look at thisFAQ about the SARS-CoV-2 projects in Folding@home. Youll also find updates on Folding@homes news page.

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How to Fight Coronavirus With Folding@home and a Gaming PC - How-To Geek

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Researchers turn to PC gamers for help with COVID-19 – GamesIndustry.biz

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PC gamers are being asked to donate their unused computational power to help researchers better understand the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Folding@home is a distributed computing project for disease research which uses idle resources to simulate protein folding.

By downloading Folding@home, PC gamers can help researchers develop treatments for COVID-19, which has so far killed over 8,000 people and caused global disruption.

"The data you help us generate will be quickly and openly disseminated as part of an open science collaboration of multiple laboratories around the world, giving researchers new tools that may unlock new opportunities for developing lifesaving drugs," said Folding@home director Greg Bowman in a post detailing the project.

Early projects are geared around understanding how the virus interacts with human host cells, and developing new antibodies to disrupt it.

Folding@home intends to make the data readily available to researchers and the public.

"While we will rapidly release the simulation data sets for others to use or analyse, we aim to look for alternative conformations and hidden pockets within the most promising drug targets, which can only be seen in simulation and not in static X-ray structures," said Folding@home computational chemist John Chodera.

"We hope that these structures -- once validated by emerging compound screening data -- could help direct the virtual screening campaigns or the targeting of new pockets for which atomistic structures were not yet available."

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Researchers turn to PC gamers for help with COVID-19 - GamesIndustry.biz

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Join PC Gamer’s Folding@home team and help research a cure for Covid-19 – PC Gamer

A couple of weeks ago we learned about a new game called Foldit, developed by researchers at the University of Washington, that could help with the development of a treatment for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Essentially, players solve puzzles by folding protein chains into new shapes that change the function of the protein, with points awarded based on the effectiveness of the solution. Researchers can then experiment on those folded proteins in order to determine their usefulness in the real world.

If that game doesn't appeal to you, but you happen to be sitting beside an expensive, powerful PC that's not really doing anything, why not let it handle the task for you?

In Foldit you have to work for a spot on that leaderboard, but through Folding@home, you can put your PC to work. Folding@home is a distributed computing project founded by Stanford University in 2000 that uses idle PCs around the world for medical research, including the coronavirus pandemic.

The way it works, essentially, is that protein data is broken up into work units, which are then downloaded automatically by the Folding software. Your PC crunches away on it until the work unit is complete, at which point the result is uploaded to the server. A new work unit is downloaded, and the process starts again. As a weak but thematically appropriate analogy, it's a bit like Team Fortress 2, except extraordinarily slow, it's nothing but bots, and the whole world is playing in the same match.

You can fold by yourself (and bravo for doing your bit) but these things are always more fun when you're part of a teamsuch as the PC Gamer Folding@home Team. The setup instructions might look a little intimidating but it's actually quite simple, and once you're rolling it's entirely automated, although you can tweak various settings, like how much processing power to dedicate and whether or not you want it to work while you're using your PC.

If you do run into problems or have any questions with Folding@home, or just feel like chatting, the PC Gamer forum thread linked above can help out. The Folding website is struggling a little bit right now, but once it's squared away you'll be able to following along with the team's progress here.

We're maintaining a roundup of esports competitions and other gaming events that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak that you can keep up with here.For more information on the Covid-19 coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control for updates in North America, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, or the World Health Organization.

This is what it looks like when proteins fold.

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Join PC Gamer's Folding@home team and help research a cure for Covid-19 - PC Gamer

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Thousands of These Computers Were Mining Cryptocurrency. Now Theyre Working on Coronavirus Research – Yahoo Money

CoreWeave, the largest U.S. miner on the Ethereum blockchain, is redirecting the processing power of 6,000 specialized computer chips toward research to find a therapy for the coronavirus.

These graphics processing units (GPUs) will be pointed toward Stanford Universitys Folding@home, a long-standing research effort that unveiled a project on Feb. 27 specifically to boost coronavirus research by way of a unique approach to developing pharmaceutical drugs: connecting thousands of computers from around the world to form a distributed supercomputer for disease research.

CoreWeave co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Brian Venturo said the project has at least a shot at finding a drug for the virus. As such, CoreWeave has responded by doubling the power of the entire network with its GPUs, which are designed to handle repetitive calculations.

Related: State Power After Coronavirus, Feat. Peter McCormack

See also: Bitcoiners Are Biohacking a DIY Coronavirus Vaccine

According to Venturo, those 6,000 GPUs made up about 0.2 percent of Ethereums total hashrate, earning roughly 28 ETH per day, worth about $3,600 at press time.

There is no cure for the coronavirus just yet (though various groups are working on vaccines and research to combat the disease, including IBMs supercomputer). Venturo noted that Folding@home has been used to contribute to breakthroughs in the creation of other important drugs.

Their research had profound impacts on the development of front-line HIV defense drugs, and we are hoping our [computing power] will aid in the fight against coronavirus, Venturo said.

Related: SkyWeaver Didnt Plan for a Captive Audience of Millions but It Sure Helps

The coronavirus is taking a toll across the world. Italy and Spain are on lockdown. Conferences, stores and restaurants are closing to stem the spread of the disease; by stoking fears, its slamming the financial markets in the process.

When the idea of using GPUs for coronavirus research was mentioned to CoreWeave, the team didnt think twice.

They had a test system up and running within minutes, Venturo said. Since then, the project quickly snowballed. CoreWeave has been contributing over half of the overall computing power going into the coronavirus wing of Folding@home.

The idea of should we do this? was never really brought up, it kind of just happened. We were all enthusiastic that we might be able to help, Venturo added.

Folding@home is a decentralized project in the same vein as Bitcoin. Instead of one research firm alone using a massive computer to do research, Folding@home uses the computing power of anyone who wants to participate from around the world even if its just a single laptop with a little unused computing power to spare.

See also: Bitcoiners in Europe Reflect on Economic Shocks as Coronavirus Spreads

In this case, the computing power is used to find helpful information relating to the coronavirus. Much like in bitcoin mining, one user might detect a solution to the problem at hand, distributing this information to the rest of the group.

Their protein simulations attempt to find potential pockets where existing [U.S. federal agency Food and Drug Administration (FDA)] approved drugs or other known compounds could help inhibit or treat the virus, Venturo said.

Viruses have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, we want to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them, a Folding@home blog post explains.

Simulating these proteins and then looking at them from different angles helps scientists to understand them better, with the potential of finding an antidote. Computers accelerate this process by shuffling through the variations very quickly.

Our specialty is in using computer simulations to understand proteins moving parts. Watching how the atoms in a protein move relative to one another is important because it captures valuable information that is inaccessible by any other means, the post reads.

Folding@home could use even more power. Venturo urges other GPU miners to join the cause.

Even without these calls for participation, though, miners of other cryptocurrencies are already independently taking action. Tulip.tools founder Johann Tanzer put out a call to action to Tezos bakers (that blockchains equivalent of miners) last week, promising to send the leading contributor to Folding@home a modest 15 XTZ, worth roughly $20 at press time.

Story continues

The initiative blew up, to Tanzers surprise. Though they might not be contributing as much power as CoreWeave, 20 groups of Tezos miners are now contributing a slice of their hashing power to the cause. Tanzers pot has swelled to roughly $600 as Tezos users caught wind of the effort and donated.

But thats not to say all miners can participate. While GPUs are flexible, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), a type of chip designed specifically for mining, arent, according to Venturo. Though ASICs are more powerful than GPUs, theyre really only made for one thing: To mine cryptocurrency. This is one advantage Venturo thinks Ethereum has over Bitcoin, since GPU mining still works on the former, whereas the latter is now dominated by ASICs.

See also: Israeli Bitcoiners See Surveillance as Unavoidable During Coronavirus Crisis

This is one of the great things about the Ethereum mining ecosystem, its basically the largest GPU compute resource on the planet. We were able to redeploy our hardware to help fight a global pandemic in minutes, Venturo said. (However, its worth noting that Ethereum has seen ASICs enter the fray. Not to mention, ether miners might soon go extinct when a pivotal upgrade makes its way into the network.)

ASICs are useless for the Folding@Home effort, but if bitcoin miners have old GPUs lying around from the early days that they could contribute, too.

Even if other miners join up, though, its still a long shot that the effort will lead to a helpful drug.

After discussing with some industry experts [] we believe the chance of success in utilizing the work done on Folding@Home to deliver a drug to market to be in the 2-5% range, Venturo said.

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Thousands of These Computers Were Mining Cryptocurrency. Now Theyre Working on Coronavirus Research - Yahoo Money

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How you can help find a drug to stop coronavirus by not using your computer – News 5 Cleveland

If you're reading this on a computer really, if you own a working computer you can help to find a potential treatment for coronavirus.

Folding@Home, a project that uses the collective computing power of thousands of computers around the world to simulate protein dynamics, is tackling SARS-COV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

By downloading the Folding@Home software and letting it run simulations when your computer is idle, like when youre asleep and totally not scrolling through some quality quarantmemes on phone, youre helping scientists in the Bowman Lab at the University of Washington in St. Louis understand how the coronavirus proteins work, and how to design therapeutics to stop them.

Its similar to the long-running project SETI@Home, which is unfortunately ending the volunteer program this month. It uses distributed computing to analyze radio telescope data in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and, by the way, if youre listening, we could use some help here.

By donating your spare computational power to Folding@Home, youll be a part of one of the worlds fastest computing systems, running at a speed of about 98.7 petaFLOPS, according to recent statistics from the site. Thats 10 to the 15th power FLOPS. A 98,000 teraFLOPS. The Titan Supercomputer cranks out a measly 20 petaFLOPS.

Folding@Home recently simulated a protein from Ebola virus that was considered undruggable, and after performing experiments confirming that prediction, theyre now on the hunt for drugs to bind to this newly discovered site.

Learn more about the project here.

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How you can help find a drug to stop coronavirus by not using your computer - News 5 Cleveland

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Why AI might be the most effective weapon we have to fight COVID-19 – The Next Web

If not the most deadly, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the most contagious diseases to have hit our green planet in the past decades. In little over three months since the virus was first spotted in mainland China, it has spread to more than 90 countries, infected more than 185,000 people, and taken more than 3,500 lives.

As governments and health organizations scramble to contain the spread of coronavirus, they need all the help they can get, including from artificial intelligence. Though current AI technologies arefar from replicating human intelligence, they are proving to be very helpful in tracking the outbreak, diagnosing patients, disinfecting areas, and speeding up the process of finding a cure for COVID-19.

Data science and machine learning might be two of the most effective weapons we have in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Just before the turn of the year, BlueDot, an artificial intelligence platform that tracks infectious diseases around the world, flagged a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases happening around a market in Wuhan, China. Nine days later, the World Health Organization (WHO)released a statementdeclaring the discovery of a novel coronavirus in a hospitalized person with pneumonia in Wuhan.

BlueDot usesnatural language processingandmachine learning algorithmsto peruse information from hundreds of sources for early signs of infectious epidemics. The AI looks at statements from health organizations, commercial flights, livestock health reports, climate data from satellites, and news reports. With so much data being generated on coronavirus every day, the AI algorithms can help home in on the bits that can provide pertinent information on the spread of the virus. It can also find important correlations between data points, such as the movement patterns of the people who are living in the areas most affected by the virus.

The company also employs dozens of experts who specialize in a range of disciplines including geographic information systems, spatial analytics, data visualization, computer sciences, as well as medical experts in clinical infectious diseases, travel and tropical medicine, and public health. The experts review the information that has been flagged by the AI and send out reports on their findings.

Combined with the assistance of human experts, BlueDots AI can not only predict the start of an epidemic, but also forecast how it will spread. In the case of COVID-19, the AI successfully identified the cities where the virus would be transferred to after it surfaced in Wuhan. Machine learning algorithms studying travel patterns were able to predict where the people who had contracted coronavirus were likely to travel.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Image source:NIAID)

You have probably seen the COVID-19 screenings at border crossings and airports. Health officers use thermometer guns and visually check travelers for signs of fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties.

Now,computer vision algorithmscan perform the same at large scale. An AI system developed by Chinese tech giant Baidu uses cameras equipped with computer vision and infrared sensors to predict peoples temperatures in public areas. The system can screen up to 200 people per minute and detect their temperature within a range of 0.5 degrees Celsius. The AI flags anyone who has a temperature above 37.3 degrees. The technology is now in use in Beijings Qinghe Railway Station.

Alibaba, another Chinese tech giant, has developed an AI system that candetect coronavirus in chest CT scans. According to the researchers who developed the system, the AI has a 96-percent accuracy. The AI was trained on data from 5,000 coronavirus cases and can perform the test in 20 seconds as opposed to the 15 minutes it takes a human expert to diagnose patients. It can also tell the difference between coronavirus and ordinary viral pneumonia. The algorithm can give a boost to the medical centers that are already under a lot of pressure to screen patients for COVID-19 infection. The system is reportedly being adopted in 100 hospitals in China.

A separate AI developed by researchers from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan EndoAngel Medical Technology Company, and the China University of Geosciences purportedly shows 95-percent accuracy on detecting COVID-19 in chest CT scans. The system is adeep learning algorithmtrained on 45,000 anonymized CT scans. According to a preprint paperpublished on medRxiv, the AIs performance is comparable to expert radiologists.

One of the main ways to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is to reduce contact between infected patients and people who have not contracted the virus. To this end, several companies and organizations have engaged in efforts to automate some of the procedures that previously required health workers and medical staff to interact with patients.

Chinese firms are using drones and robots to perform contactless delivery and to spray disinfectants in public areas to minimize the risk of cross-infection. Other robots are checking people for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms and dispensing free hand sanitizer foam and gel.

Inside hospitals, robots are delivering food and medicine to patients and disinfecting their rooms to obviate the need for the presence of nurses. Other robots are busy cooking rice without human supervision, reducing the number of staff required to run the facility.

In Seattle, doctors used a robot to communicate with and treat patients remotely to minimize exposure of medical staff to infected people.

At the end of the day, the war on the novel coronavirus is not over until we develop a vaccine that can immunize everyone against the virus. But developing new drugs and medicine is a very lengthy and costly process. It can cost more than a billion dollars and take up to 12 years. Thats the kind of timeframe we dont have as the virus continues to spread at an accelerating pace.

Fortunately, AI can help speed up the process. DeepMind, the AI research lab acquired by Google in 2014, recently declared that it has used deep learning to find new information about the structure of proteins associated with COVID-19. This is a process that could have taken many more months.

Understanding protein structures can provide important clues to the coronavirus vaccine formula. DeepMind is one of several organizations who are engaged in the race to unlock the coronavirus vaccine. It has leveraged the result of decades of machine learning progress as well as research on protein folding.

Its important to note that our structure prediction system is still in development and we cant be certain of the accuracy of the structures we are providing, although we are confident that the system is more accurate than our earlier CASP13 system, DeepMinds researchers wroteon the AI labs website. We confirmed that our system provided an accurate prediction for the experimentally determined SARS-CoV-2 spike protein structure shared in the Protein Data Bank, and this gave us confidence that our model predictions on other proteins may be useful.

Although its too early to tell whether were headed in the right direction, the efforts are commendable. Every day saved in finding the coronavirus vaccine can save hundredsor thousandsof lives.

This story is republished fromTechTalks, the blog that explores how technology is solving problems and creating new ones. Like them onFacebookhere and follow them down here:

Published March 21, 2020 17:00 UTC

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Why AI might be the most effective weapon we have to fight COVID-19 - The Next Web

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