The Folding@home project uses distributed computing power to simulate protein folding, computer-aided drug development and other types of molecular research. Since March 2020, @Stanford University project has been using the distributed computing power of computers distributed around the world to simulate the dynamics of COVID-19 proteins to search for new therapeutic possibilities. In particular, this means that cryptocurrency minerscan use their GPU power to combat the coronavirus.
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Proteins are molecular structures that map different functions such as the perception of taste and smell, muscle contractions or food metabolism. They consist of a chain of amino acids that “fold” into compact structures. The function of a protein is determined by how these components are arranged or how they move. Since viruses also have proteins with which they suppress our immune system and reproduce themselves, the researchers are using Folding@home to investigate how the viral proteins of the coronavirus function. In this way, they aim to develop new treatments to stop them. (Bowman, 2020)
The Stanford University project Folding@home was established 20 years ago to study and simulate protein folding. The idea is to utilize unused computing capacity to simulate the folding of proteins (Rixecker, 2020). This enables the researchers to study the moving parts of proteins in greater detail, which could lead to new methods for treating diseases. In their latest academic paper, the researchers have shown that in the case of the Ebola virus, computer simulation of the protein movement can lead to new treatment approaches for this disease (Cruz et al., 2020).
Due to the recent collapse of the stock and crypto markets based on the Corona pandemic, many crypto-miners sit on spare computing resources. Because for smaller mining farms or private crypto-miners, the electricity costs for Bitcoin or Ethereum mining currently surpasses the generated revenues. Folding@home offers an opportunity to use the hardware for a good cause by making a valuable contribution for the research on the Coronavirus.
The Tezos community has taken up this challenge and is leading by example. One of their developers, more specifically Johann Tanzer has organized a price pool for the mining team that contributes the most to the virus research via Folding@home in this month. To do so, the developer recommends the use of mining rigs of proof-of-work based cryptocurrencies (Dalton, 2020). Besides these, gaming computers with good graphics performance, but also conventional computers can certainly be used to contribute to the research on the coronavirus.
The following video shows how to install Folding@home on your personal computer. As you can see in the video, even my laptop was able to provide the necessary performance for Folding@home. However, the process took a little longer as usual.
Bowman, G. (2020, March 15). Coronavirus — What we’re doing and how you can help in simple terms — Folding@home. Retrieved from https://foldingathome.org/2020/03/15/coronavirus-what-were-doing-and-how-you-can-help-in-simple-terms/
Bradbury, D. (2013, August 9). Should you mine for profit or proteins? Retrieved from https://www.coindesk.com/should-you-mine-for-profit-or-proteins
Cruz, M. A., Frederick, T. E., Singh, S., Vithani, N., Zimmerman, M. I., Porter, J. R., … Bowman, G. R. (2020). Discovery of a cryptic allosteric site in Ebola’s ‘undruggable’ VP35 protein using simulations and experiments. BioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.09.940510
Dalton, M. (2020, March 3). Tezos Community Offers $1,000 Prize to Fight Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://cryptobriefing.com/tezos-community-offers-1000-prize-fight-coronavirus/
Rixecker, K. (2020, March 7). Folding@home: Diese Software nutzt deine Rechenkapazitäten im Kampf gegen das Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://t3n.de/news/foldinghome-diese-software-1259459/
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