First step towards anthrax cure to be handed over to governments
The results of the anthrax project run from the Oxford University's
Department of Chemistry will today [8 March 2002] be handed to the
US Department of Defence and the UK government. Professor Graham
Richards will hand over a compact disc containing data of some 300,000
molecules which look like promising candidates to form the basis
for a cure for anthrax. The hand-over event will take place at the
UK Embassy in Washington DC.
The project was launched on 22 January and took less than four
weeks to complete. It involved using screensaver time on 1.4 million
personal computers in over 200 countries, screening some 3.5 billion
molecules as possible inhibitors of the assembly of the anthrax
toxin. Preliminary results indicate approximately 300,000 possible
candidates for further research, with some 12,000 being particularly
Professor Graham Richards, Chairman of Chemistry at Oxford University
and scientific director of the project, said: 'The realm of life
sciences is in for a radical shift in its approach to drug discovery
as shown by the phenomenal success of our virtual screening project
to fight anthrax. Research that was believed to be impossible in
my lifetime is now not only possible, but has been accomplished
in a few short weeks.'
The project has been run from the Centre for Computational Drug
Design in the Department of Chemistry, which is funded by the National
Foundation for Cancer Research, with whom the Centre is conducting
a year-long search for anti-cancer drugs. Sponsored by Intel and
Microsoft, it uses software developed by Keith Davies of Treweren
Consultants, and the distributed computer techniques of United Devices.
The project is documented on the website www.chem.ox.ac.uk/anthrax
For further information, please contact the university
of oxford press office on 01865 280528.
The British Embassy - Ambassador's Residence, Washington DC