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Karl Spackler

PSA - Folding@home

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Install this on your computer and help researchers develop a vaccine by using your spare computer power:

Ok so here's a little primer on why this is important.

  1. Proteins are the nuts and bolts of everything that happens in every aspect of every life form that exists. Here's an analogy: Imagine taking your car and stripping it down to every last individual part - every nut, bolt, washer, piece of plastic that has a shape, wire, cable, circuit board, everything.
  2. If that car was an organism of any kind, every one of those parts would be a protein or a phospholipid bilayer or chemical compound of some kind.
  3. Proteins can be, generally - structural in function or chemical in function (these are called enzymes).
  4. All those proteins have primary structures - chains of amino acids
  5. Those chains of amino acids go on to form a secondary structure - alpha helices and beta pleated sheets (proline rich regions form goofy squiggly lines).
  6. Those secondary structures fold together like origami to form 3D tertiary structures that give each protein a unique shape and chemical characteristic around its structure due to the positive or negative charges on the functional groups of each amino acid.
  7. Mapping these tertiary structures allows us to formulate chemical compounds that can fit to these unique structures and either activate them or deactivate them.
  8. We have roughly 25,000 genes which encode for as-yet untold hundreds of thousands of proteins since each of the RNA products of DNA genes can be spliced and segmented into many splice variants.
  9. Deactivating a protein encoded by a virus prevents the virus from self-replicating its nucleic acid (sing or double stranded plus-sense or minus-sense DNA or RNA depending on what of the several major classifications of virus it is) or synthesizing its own structural proteins - thus stopping the virus from co-opting the normal mechanisms of the infected cell.
  10. The cell then self-identifies as being infect and expresses it's own proteins on its surface. These are the COME KILL ME flags that tell the immune system to destroy that cell so that it can't infect surrounding cells - and eventually harm the host organism.
  11. The effort to determine the tertiary structure and by extension the chemical properties of each significant domain requires enormous computational power, which is why folding@home exists.

I'll be happy to answer any questions about the biology. 

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Sigh, I have hestitantly installed this.  I don't like the idea of putting this sort of software on my computer, but I trust this forum and the people enough in it to judge that if it is what it says it is with no malicious or third-party malicious code, then it'll be worth it.  Alzheimers and Parkinson's have run rampant and I've watched too many people deteriorate.  If I can help, I will.  You have my PC sir!  May it serve you well. 

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