How ARTECHOUSE Has Joined the Battle Against COVID-19 Through the Folding@Home Project

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world as we know it to a screeching halt. While people are ordered to stay at home so we can flatten the curve, researchers and scientists are working quickly to help find relief methods and, ultimately, a vaccine.

Over the past few weeks, ARTECHOUSE has offered the GPU and CPU power from six of its computers, usually reserved to operate our on-site programming, to the Folding@Home Consortium. While each project does something different, overall its mission is to simulate how chemical compounds bind to COVID-19 proteins, helping to focus research into the most effective drugs. Currently, ARTECHOUSE has offered over 600 work units for projects on Folding@Home, and we are proud to be ranked in the top 1 percent of contributors in the entire project.

How does Folding@Home work? The project aims to simulate how proteins fold. Proteins are an essential building block of the body, but in order for them to function they need to “fold” into a particular shape, which is called protein folding. When they don’t fold as they should it can cause them to clump, leading to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. In order to find a drug to cure these kinds of diseases, scientists first need to figure out why the proteins misfold in the first place through simulations. It is very computer-intensive to simulate the folding of a protein, which is why Folding@Home turns to computers around the world to help power the project. Scientists then use this data to study the structures of these proteins to help develop antibodies to prevent the misfolding of these proteins.

The data that is generated during this project is quickly disseminated as part of an open science collaboration of multiple laboratories around the world, giving researchers new tools that may unlock opportunities for developing lifesaving drugs. The program, which began 2000, has previously collected research on Alzheimer’s, cancer, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s Disease. 

And you don’t need a supercomputer to get involved! By downloading Folding@home and selecting to contribute to “Any Disease,” you can help provide Folding@Home with the computational power required to tackle this problem. You can set the controls for when your computer is available, or have it run full time. We are thrilled to be able to contribute to this necessary and groundbreaking research, and hope that you will all get involved too!

To find out more and to download the program, visit foldingathome.org.

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