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England

Screensaver lifesaver

Anyone, anywhere with access to a personal computer, could help find a cure for cancer by giving 'screensaver time' from their computers to the world's largest ever computational project, which will screen 250 million molecules for cancer-fighting potential.

The project is being carried out by Oxford University's Centre for Computational Drug Discovery - a unique 'virtual centre' funded by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), which is based in the Department of Chemistry and linked with international research groups via the world-wide web - in collaboration with United Devices, a US-based distributed computing technology company, and Intel, who are sponsoring the project.

Update: On Friday 27 April the Screensaver Project finally came to a close. The project, developed with the National Foundation for Cancer Research has run for six years and has at various times been funded by Intel, Microsoft and by IBM, but was chiefly a collaboration with United Devices Inc of Austin Texas.

It has been an enormous success, involving over 3.5 million personal computers in more than 200 countries. Only the SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] project has had more participants, but none has involved as much data transmission as this research.

The project built a database of billions of small drug-like molecules with known routes to synthesis. These compounds have been screened virtually to see if they might make potent inhibitors of proteins of known crystal structure and biological significance.

WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW [http://www.webelements.com/]

Copyright 1993-2011 Mark Winter [The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]. All rights reserved.