Internet computing finds cancer growth inhibitors
Monday 30 June 2003
Find-a-Drug is pleased to announce that the preliminary results of its Cancer Internet project have exceeded all expectations. By using the spare computer time of thousands of PCs connected to the Internet to form a large supercomputer, Find-a-Drug has been able to evaluate the potential of more than 0.5 billion molecules and produce a set of molecules that are predicted to inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cell. Scientists at the US National Cancer Institute have tested the abilities of a small number of molecules from the set as part of their Developmental Therapeutics Program.
"We had expected that only 2-3% of the molecules predicted to inhibit cancer cell growth would be observed to do so in the laboratory" commented Keith Davies, Scientific Director of Find-a-Drug. "In this study, 7 of the 39 molecules tested showed the desired anti-cancer properties".
These results relate to two proteins: RAS, which has been described by David Kerr, Professor of Oncology at of Oxford University as the "single access gate" for signalling cell development; and VEGFr which plays a key-role in the development of new blood vessels. Previous attempts to find RAS inhibitors have been less successful, but there are some VEGFr inhibitors in clinical trials. VEGFr is a very attractive protein to target because inhibiting the development of new blood vessels would be a valuable treatment for most solid tumours including breast, colon and renal cancers. VEGFr inhibitors may also be a viable alternative to chemotherapy following surgery with fewer side-effects.
Find-a-Drug hopes to test more molecules in the laboratory later this year before making any decisions about which molecules are worthy of further research. Alternative protein targets will also be evaluated to increase the number of molecules which are predicted to have anti-cancer properties. It is hoped that choosing from a larger number of molecules will help to avoid drug failures during clinical trials.
The project has so far used over 250 years of computer time, and has involved over 8,000 PCs around the world. Each PC is running a copy of the THINK software in the background which does not affect normal use of the PC. All data transferred between the PCs and the Find-a-Drug Internet servers are encrypted. This is a necessary and valuable precaution to prevent the introduction of a harmful agent such as a virus on to the computers. PC owners may participate in the project by downloading the THINK software and molecules from www.find-a-drug.org. Once installed, the software does not require any interaction by the owner.
To participate visit www.find-a-drug.org.
For further information please contact:
Tel: Keith Davies +44 1386 871670 or 07879 495105