If you have ever considered donating your unused CPU time to benefit humanity check the following report from the Rosetta@Home
BOINC project on how they are using spare CPU time from hundreds of thousands (millions?) of personal computers around the world to combat COVID-19…
The primary way proteins interact with each other is by sticking to one another. As you may have seen from the R@h graphics application, proteins come in all shapes and sizes. For this reason, most proteins do not stick randomly to each other, but rather stick very specifically to a handful of other proteins. For instance, the viral spike protein of COVID-19 sticks to the human ACE2 protein which is how the virus gains entry to the cell.
The IPD has been working hard at improving the ability to design such binding interactions. This process starts by creating a set of scaffold proteins that do not have a purpose other than to fold precisely to an atomic structure. These scaffolds are then docked onto a target protein of interest and their surfaces designed to perfectly complement the target. Finally, the designs are scored, filtered, and tested for binding in the lab.
We will now be using R@h to do the surface design step. Docking and filtering are fast, but actually doing protein design is slow. We will be using the massive amounts of compute power available on R@h to sample every amino acid at every position at the interface. We will then pick the best combinations of amino acids using simulated annealing and Monte-Carlo. Sampling is key for this process and this is why we turn to R@h.
So, join us in the coming weeks as we make binders to COVID-19 and related proteins. We'll still be doing structure prediction and scaffold design as these are absolutely critical to protein science as well. But look out for the interface design cases, because someone might be designing the next COVID-19 cure.
And hopefully you'll stick around once the pandemic is over. We can only design binders like this because we've been working hard at the problem for years. There's still a long way to go, though. Improving the science takes time and computing, so we hope you'll join us on this exciting ride.
-- Brian Coventry
I have been participating for years and I have never had a problem with BOINC or any of its affiliated projects, not any noticeable performance hit on my computers. I invite you to join me and thousands of others around the world in donating your unused CPU cycles to the benefit of humanity.