Gamers asked to contribute computing power for automated COVID-19 research

Nvidia is calling on PC gamers to do their parts in fighting the novel coronavirus. 

The company is asking gamers to download the Folding@home application and put the power of their gaming computers to work, moving through massive data tasks.

New projects simulating potentially druggable protein targets from the virus that causes COVID-19 and the SARS CoV virus were made available on Folding@home on March 10.

“These projects could help researchers better understand coronavirus, and eventually even develop effective therapies against it,” John Chodera wrote in a March 10 announcement at Folding@home.org. “If you've been grappling with feelings of helplessness in the face of the worldwide outbreak, this is a small but real way you can lend your aid to the world without any medical experience. It also doesn't hurt that you don't need to leave your house to do it, since we're supposed to avoid that as much as possible anyway.”

Chodera said that they hope to take advantage of new structural biology and biochemical data, which has been distributed by preprint servers which aim to get research to the public and other researchers so that scientists can evaluate and build on it.

“This initial wave of projects focuses 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," Chodera wrote. 

The consortium plans to build their repository, adding projects and documentation, presenting data sets with structures when they have useful data to report, the March 10 announcement says.

It’s important for gamers to know that whenever they wish, they can turn off the Folding@home application and use the full power of their system to play video games.  

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