Computing a Cure for HIV

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

HIV/AIDS has caused an estimated 36 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization and remains a major health issue worldwide. Today, about 35 million people are affected by HIV including more than a million individuals in the U.S.

The tendency of HIV to mutate and resist drugs has made it particularly difficult to eradicate. Some treatments have shown progress in slowing or even stopping the progress of the virus, but no cure or vaccine has been discovered that can truly stamp out the disease.

In the last decade, scientists have begun using supercomputers in the fight against HIV. The National Science Foundation (NSF) at www.nsf.gov is using some of the nation’s most powerful supercomputers to help teams of researchers push the limits on what is known about HIV and how to treat it.

One of the research projects using computers came to the rescue after scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme that plays an important role in HIV. They called on the players of FoldIt, an online puzzle video game to find a solution.

Using FoldIt, scientists were able to determine how the enzyme folded and solve the mystery of its structure. With further help from the game players, researchers were able to identify target drugs to neutralize the enzyme.

Source: Federal Telemedicine (link opens in a new window)

Categories
Health Care
Tags
healthcare technology, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, pharmaceutical industry, public health