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Grid to take on AIDS

One of the top ten distributed supercomputers in the world will look for better AIDS drugs.

IBM has launched a new research initiative to use grid technology for AIDS research.

The World Community Grid, counted among the top 10 supercomputers in the world, will work with the La Jolla, Calif.-based Scripps Research Institute in designing new therapeutic tools to counter HIV, the fast-mutating virus that causes AIDS, IBM said Monday.

The initiative, dubbed FightAIDS@Home, will draw idle computing power from more than 170,000 computers.

"The computational challenges in approaching this problem are the vast number of possible mutations that may occur, and the huge number of possible chemical compounds that might be tested against them," Dr. Arthur J. Olson, Anderson Research Chair Professor of the Scripps Department of Molecular Biology said in a statement. "The new World Community Grid project will run millions upon millions of docking computations to evaluate potential interactions between compounds and mutant viral proteins."

The nonprofit World Community Grid project, unveiled by IBM last year, successfully completed one scientific feat already: the Human Proteome Folding Project. That venture, carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Systems Biology over a 1-year period, could produce a database of approximately 120,000 protein structures. The supercomputer at the institute would have taken more than 100 years to complete the same work.