PC grid crunches smallpox model

A project to help the Defense Department find smallpox antidotes is more than half finished, according to the company organizing the effort.

About 2.5 million computers are running the Patriot Grid screensaver, said Paul Kirchoff, marketing vice president for United Devices Inc. of Austin, Texas.

The company, whose grid-computing platform is called Global MetaProcessor, plans to present its smallpox drug findings'possibly tens of thousands of molecules'to the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in a couple of months, Kirchoff said.

The next step would be to synthesize and test several of the most promising substances.
The screensaver starts a simulation that tries to match nine so-called binding sites on two smallpox virus proteins against 35 million molecules from potential drugs.

The simulation downloads chunks of data from www.grid.org, processes it during idle cycles and uploads the results.

When United Devices announced the smallpox project in February, the company already had 1.75 million computers using its screensaver to search for cancer and anthrax remedies.

Another 100,000 computers downloaded the screensaver in the first 48 hours after the smallpox announcement, Kirchoff said.

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