Folding at Home

No, I’m not talking about laundry, no one ever likes talking about chores. I’m talking about the Folding@home project. Their goals have become principal currently, where there is a desperate need of protein research. With the COVID-19 scare, the Folding@home project has gained a ton of heat.

 The basis of the project relies on the concept of protein mis-folding, which leads to many disorders and diseases. The function of a protein depends solely on its shape, therefore, if a protein acquires the wrong shape, it will not be adept to perform its meant function. Protein folding occurs in 4 complex stages  (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary), and thus proteins are prone to mistakes in the process.

4 Steps of Protein Folding. Credit: ATA Scientific

The project itself permits people at home to install a certain software and allow their computers (when not in use) to be utilized by scientists to conduct investigations on the proteins and contribute to research. The scientists use the simulations of the protein, being run on the software, in order to understand the protein’s moving parts.

First launched in 2018 for the sole purpose of the study and simulation of protein sequencing, it has been employed for research on Alzheimers disease, Ebola, Influenza, and even cancer. What about COVID-19?

The leaders of the Folding@home project have been working tirelessly to start more simulations of the COVID-19 proteins. Currently, the scientists have been simulating dynamics of the proteins in order to identify any possible cures.

The public response has been incredible with the project finally surpassing 1 million downloads. People from all over the world are installing the software and by allowing scientists to progress research, they are able to each contribute what they can to finding the cure for the pandemic. Hopefully with all the efforts made from Folding@home leaders and global contributors, researchers will be able to propose a cure sooner than later!

Works Referenced

“Diseases- Folding@ Home.” Folding@Home – Fighting Disease with a World Wide Distributed Super Computer., foldingathome.org/diseases/.

says:, V, et al. “Protein Folding: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Science in the News, 9 Jan. 2014, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2010/issue65/.

Englander, S. Walter, and Leland Mayne. “The Nature of Protein Folding Pathways.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 11 Nov. 2014, http://www.pnas.org/content/111/45/15873.

Published by N

A high school student who is passionate about life sciences!

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