The screening phase of the Anthrax Research Project has
The University of Oxford & United Devices is pleased to announce
that as of 19th February 2002, the screening phase of the Anthrax
Research Project has been completed, four weeks after the project
Prompted by recent events and a heightened concern around the threat
of anthrax, this projects goal was to accelerate what is usually
a time-consuming step in the lengthy drug discovery process. The
project entailed presenting a key protein component of anthrax into
the general rotation of the United Devices Member Communitys
current virtual screening project, which works with the MetaProcessor
platform over the Internet. This allowed UD Members to lend their
computers in the screening of 3.57 billion molecules for suitability
as a treatment for advanced-stage Anthrax.
Screening is only one step in a long drug discovery process that
ultimately must move from the computational realm into the actual
laboratory. The project used a 5-time redundancy rate for each molecule
to ensure a high level of accuracy and quality. With the invaluable
help of the UD Member Community, NFCR Centre for Computational Drug
Design in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford,
and corporate sponsors Intel and Microsoft, the project was completed
in a stunning 24 days.
Dr. Graham Richards, Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Oxford
and the Director of the Centre for Computational Drug Design, called
the results unprecedented, commenting, Had we
done this using traditional methods, it would have taken years instead
of less than 4 weeks.
Preliminary indications are that we have narrowed the original
pool of 3.57 billion molecules down considerably, having identified
over 300,000 crude unique hits in the course of the project. This
significantly reduces the next phase of the discovery process, in
which the ranked hits will be further refined and analyzed, accelerating
the overall time to availability of a treatment.
The realm of life sciences is in for a radical
shift in its approach to drug discovery
--Graham Richards, Head of Computational Chemistry, University of
Some Members of the UD Community continued processing results over
the weekend while initial results were verified.