Oxford Researchers Launch ‘Distributed Computing’ Project to Find Anthrax Treatments
Researchers at Oxford University launched a distributed computing project yesterday that will use the excess computing power of volunteers' computers to search for anthrax treatments, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports. The project relies on the premise that the average personal computer typically uses just 13% to 18% of its processing power; it is designed to harness the unused computing power for research into potential treatments for anthrax in cases where the disease is too advanced to be treated by antibiotics. Participants will download a screen saver program that will direct their computers to perform computations for the project whenever they have available processing power. When users log on to the Internet, their computers will send data back to a "central hub" and receive new assignments. If enough participants join the project, their computers could generate more computational power than the world's fastest supercomputers, according to Graham Richards, the Oxford professor leading the study. The project is funded by Intel and Microsoft and supported by the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Similar distributed computing projects are underway to search for treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's disease (AP/Wall Street Journal, 1/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.