Computers band against cancer

IBM is working with researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey to unleash supercomputer technology in the battle against cancer.

Help Defeat Cancer is the third project to use the enormous computational power offered by World Community Grid, the world’s largest humanitarian grid that constitutes a virtual supercomputer. The project is expected to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer and to improve treatment and therapy planning for cancer patients. Thanks to the computing power of World Community Grid, researchers will be able to analyze large numbers of cancer tissue microarrays (TMAs) simultaneously, allowing multiple experiments to be conducted more quickly.

"As a result of the Help Defeat Cancer project, World Community Grid makes it possible to analyze in one day the number of specimens that would take approximately 130 years to complete using a traditional computer," said Dr. David J. Foran, lead researcher and professor of pathology and director of the Center for Biomedical Imaging at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and co-director of the Immunohistochemistry shared resources program of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. "Without World Community Grid, TMAs are processed in individual or small batches that are analyzed on standard computers."

Researchers believe the speed and sophistication of World Community Grid could make it possible to detect and track subtle changes in measurable parameters. These, in turn, could provide more accurate prognoses.

The Help Defeat Cancer project will begin with the analysis of breast cancer TMAs followed by an analysis involving head and neck cancers. IBM will use its information technology capabilities to power the Help Defeat Cancer project on World Community Grid for a minimum of three months.

Launched in November 2004, World Community Grid applies the unused computing power of individual and business computers to help solve the world’s most difficult and societal problems. Anyone can donate idle and unused time from a computer by downloading World Community Grid’s free software.

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