Humanity’s ingenuity is often best demonstrated at times of crisis, and the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – pandemic is a clear example of this. Creativity has proven to be our greatest asset, and in these times, this has proven more true than ever.
In this article, we’ll explore the many ways in which people and companies have been coming together to combat SARS-CoV-2 across many fronts, and how Modus Create is contributing.
The Wide Battleground
Companies like Ford, GM, and Tesla are pivoting their production lines to help accelerate the production of crucial ventilators. Clothing companies like Hanes are retrofitting their factories to produce N95 Masks. Distilleries are pumping out much-needed hand sanitizer. All of this activity is to help our ill-equipped hospitals, medical staff, and first responders. Universities and pharmaceutical companies are racing to speed up COVID-19 testing, others are partnering together to create a vaccine, while the World Health Organization launches “mega trials” for existing drugs to treat the disease.
Those who work within the realm of digital products are also using their skills and time to contribute to open source projects related to COVID-19. The community is doing things like creating 3D printed face masks, collaborating on open source ventilator prototypes, and countless software projects like this dashboard collection by Machine Learning Engineer, Hamel Husain.
One additional way that we can contribute to combating COVID-19 is by donating our unused computing capacity to various distributed computing projects, and that’s what we’ll look at next.
Leveraging the Power of Distributed Computing
Scientists are racing to produce drugs for COVID-19 and one of the ways they are doing this is modeling proteins that can be used as drug targets to fight this pandemic. This type of workload is extremely computationally expensive and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by means of distributed computing.
In short, distributed computing works by breaking up large units of work into smaller chunks. Those smaller chunks are received and processed by clients installed on computers connected to the distributed computing’s network and then returned to the work manager upon completion.
Rosetta@Home and Folding@Home are two very popular projects that are actively leveraging distributed computing to combat SARS-CoV-2, and both projects have a history of battling other viruses and even cancer. These two projects use donated computing power to help with serious mathematical calculations.
“We are happy to report that the Rosetta molecular modeling suite was recently used to accurately predict the atomic-scale structure of an important coronavirus protein weeks before it could be measured in the lab. Knowledge gained from studying this viral protein is now being used to guide the design of novel vaccines and antiviral drugs.” – UW Institute for Protein Design, February 24, 2020.
Rosetta@Home is part of the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design. This project focuses on determining 3D shapes of proteins that can be used to create cures for diseases. Rosetta@Home uses the Berkeley BOINC platform. You can learn more about how this project works by checking out the Berkeley Baker Lab page.
Folding@Home takes a different approach, and models what is known as protein folding so that we can better understand how diseases can result from misfolding. Folding@Home has been contributing to the science community for almost a decade and is now focusing on using their distributed computing platform to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus works. This work can lead to the creation of future remedies. The following video demonstrates Folding@Home’s distributed computing platform exposed a site where drugs can bind to this modeled protein.
Join the Fight Using your Computer!
Modus Create has joined the fight by donating all spare computers at our headquarters in Reston, Virginia to process workloads for both distributed computing projects, and we would like to encourage you all to do the same. It’s for a good cause!
Here are the links to download and install Rosetta@Home or Folding@Home. If you don’t have a spare computer, you can configure these projects to run within specific timeframes, like when you are sleeping, or whenever your computer cores are completely idle.
We look forward to working with you to help the scientific community find a cure for COVID-19!
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