During April, computers in the UK have been working overtime in the fight against avian flu. As part of an international collaboration, computers at eleven UK universities and research labs have put in one hundred thousand hours of time searching for possible drug components against the avian flu virus H5N1. The analysis used a computing Grid, a new network that brings together worldwide computer resources to solve scientific problems.
The computing Grid used in the UK was originally built to help particle physicists examine the huge amounts of data from their experiments. But it is now part of a wider project called EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE), that lets other scientists share its resources. As Professor Tony Doyle, Project Leader for the UK particle physics Grid, explains, “The Grid is useful for any kind of research that needs lots of computing power. In this case it’s greatly speeded up a step in the search for drugs against avian flu, and we’ve been pleased to use the UK particle physics Grid to help.“
A collaboration of Asian and European laboratories used an international Grid to analyse 300,000 possible drug components against the virus. 2000 computers were used during 4 weeks in April – the equivalent of 100 years on a single computer. More than 60 000 output files with a data volume of 600 Gigabytes were created. Potential drug compounds against avian flu are now being identified and ranked according to the binding energies of the docked models.
Julia Maddock | alfa
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