Monday, February 7, 2011

Folding at Home to Cure Alzheimer's

Stanford University is asking for our help!!!
An incredible citizen based research project created and run by Stanford University is our chance to literally do absolutely nothing and help them to discover the keys to diseases like

*Alzheimer's Disease
*Parkinson's Disease
*Cystic Fibrosis
*Huntington's Disease
*Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome (Mad Cow)

The project is called Folding At Home and this is only a partial list of the conditions that are benefiting from this volunteer project.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, this is your chance to make a tangible difference toward discovering the cause of AD as well as potential treatments.... or even a cure, and all you have to do is leave your computer running when you're not using it. 

So, what is Folding At Home? Protein folding is an extremely complex biological reaction that happens inside our bodies.  When it happens right we are healthy.  When something goes wrong the result is disease. 
The project - Folding At Home is designed and run by Stanford to help them discover how proteins mis-fold and cause disease (more on that below). The process is so complex, that it would take many, many supercomputers many, many years to accomplish.  In the meantime, people are dying.... this is too slow. So, the project was devised to invite the general public (that's you and me) to hook our computers and gaming units up with Stanford University's computers and let them use our idle computers and Play Stations whenever they're not being used.  Think of many, many small computers joining together to transform themselves into the world's largest supercomputer - that's what we're talking about! This could be during the middle of the night, while you're at work or eating dinner - whenever you choose!  By "lending" your computer processors to the project it is making this process happen years faster.

What then, is Protein Folding? The human body makes about 50,000 proteins. When these proteins are being made, they are supposed to assume a particular shape. This Apple Computer article relates it to Origami paper folding. Sometimes something goes wrong in the process of folding the flat piece of paper into a beautiful swan. The protein that is supposed to look like an origami swan instead mis-folds and the end product is completely different - maybe an origami star, or worse yet.... nothing. When this happens, our bodies can't function properly. We become sick. Sometimes, we die. We need to know how each of these proteins fold properly before we can try to prevent the mis-fold, or fix it. The computer calculations for these complex chemical reactions are massive. In 2007 it was estimated that the amount of power this system uses would be roughly equal to every human on planet earth doing 75,000 math equations in their head at once! If we are to discover the mis-folds in our lifetime, it is going to take an army of volunteers to be a part of the project. This is where YOU come in!

How do I sign up? I have posted a few Folding At Home videos here at WEGO Health. You might want to start there, or you can go directly to the University's website for the project which can be found HERE.  


- By going to the website and following the directions, you can begin. This project was named by Guinness Book of World Records as the most powerful distributed computing network in existence. When you're not using your computer, simply set it to work, and that's it. You can even watch the folding as it happens if you like - incredible!!!

Here is a link to some of the published research on Alzheimer's that has occurred as a result of Folding At Home.

You can be a part of the Research,
You can be a part of the Healing,
You can be a part of history...

Never underestimate the power of ONE!
Health Activists, this is a call to action.  Please, post this in your communities.  Click the button below and add it to your twitter feed or your facebook account.  Encourage everyone you know to participate.  
Join in the conversation about Folding At Home by going to this Alzheimer's Disease group discussion.  There is an awesome video there done by a group of ordinary guys who formed a Folding At Home team.  They each have someone they're doing this for.  
Who is your someone??

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