Computers fight Avian Flu :
Computers from Royal Holloway and 10 other universities and research laboratories have been playing a major role in the fight against avian flu. As part of an international collaboration, these computers have been searching for possible drug components against the avian flu virus H5N1.
The analysis used a computing Grid, a network that brings together worldwide computer resources to solve scientific problems. Three hundred thousand possible drug components against the virus were analysed by 2000 computers during the month of April – the equivalent of 100 years on a single computer.
This project enables possible drug components to be screened and studied rapidly, which scientists hope will enable them to respond effectively to large-scale threats. The goal was to find potential compounds that can inhibit the activities of an enzyme on the surface of the influenza virus, the so-called neuraminidase, subtype N1. The results will help scientists predict which chemical fragments are most effective for blocking this enzyme in case of mutations.
The computers used in the UK came from Royal Holloway University of London, Brunel, Birmingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Manchester, Oxford, University College London, and CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. They are all part of the GridPP project, which runs the UK particle physics Grid funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.
Commenting on the importance of the project, Dr Simon George at Royal Holloway says: “The primary aim of the Grid is to analyse huge quantities of data produced at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, which is being constructed at CERN, in Switzerland, and will be launched in 2007. However it can be used for many other problems and the Royal Holloway Centre for Particle Physics was delighted to offer spare computing time for this vital work. It′s also a great way to test the system before we need it to analyse our own data.”
For further information contact: Julia Maddock, PPARC Press Office on 01793 442094 or Alison Denyer, Royal Holloway Press Office on 01784 443967.
Ranked the second best department in the country in The Guardian league tables (May 2006), The Department of Physics at Royal Holloway is one of the major centres for Physics teaching and research in the University of London.