Coronavirus cure could be closer with help from your Mac

If you want to take part in helping scientists find a coronavirus cure, you can now donate some of your unused Mac processing power to work on cracking COVID-19.

You might already be familiar with SETI@Home. This uses spare processing power from personal computers all around the world to analyze data from radio telescopes, looking for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. That program is ceasing at the end of the month, as the university now has enough results to do a back-end analysis to make sense of it all…

But there’s a similar distributed computing project geared to finding cures for diseases, Folding@Home (FAH), and that has started work on trying to find a cure for the coronavirus.

So far, FAH has been working on four different cancers, three neurological diseases, and five infectious diseases.

Cancer: Breast cancer, p53, Epigenetics, kidney cancer

Neurological diseases: Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s

Infectious diseases: Dengue fever, Chagas disease (African Trypanosomiasis), Zika virus, Hepatitis C, Ebola virus

COVID-19 has now been added to the list.

We need your help! Folding@home is joining researchers around the world working to better understand the 2019 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to accelerate the open science effort to develop new life-saving therapies. By downloading Folding@Home, you can donate your unused computational resources to the Folding@home Consortium, where researchers working to advance our understanding of the structures of potential drug targets for 2019-nCoV that could aid in the design of new therapies. The data you help us generate will be quickly and openly disseminated as part of an open science collaboration of multiple laboratories around the world, giving researchers new tools that may unlock new opportunities for developing lifesaving drugs.

To run the Folding@Home Mac app, V7, you’ll any 64-bit Mac (Core 2 Duo or later) running macOS 10.6 or later.

Folding@home is a project focused on disease research. The problems we’re solving require so many computer calcul­ations — and we need your help to find the cures!

The Folding@home software allows you to share your unused computer power with us — so that we can research even more potential cures.

Folding refers to the way human protein folds in the cells that make up your body. We rely on the proteins to keep us healthy and they assemble themselves by folding. But when they misfold, there can be serious consequences to a person’s health.

The journey started in the year 2000, at Stanford University. The Pande Lab, directed by professor Vijay Pande, founded the Folding@home project. Ever since, the team has been researching protein folding, computational drug design and other types of molecular dynamics.

You can download the app here. The control and viewer apps both look like they were created by a Windows programmer in about 1990, but they do the job…

Once installed, you can use the FAHControl app to choose whether the app works all the time, or only when your Mac is idle — and you can choose how much of your Mac CPU power it uses. It defaults to the lowest priority, and light usage. You can also pause it at any time, for example, while running an app that needs all the power it can get.

I’ve created a 9to5Mac team, so if you want to join in, enter team number 235955 when prompted.

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