Leishmaniasis is one of the most neglected tropical diseases. Each year it infects more than two million people in 97 countries. To date, there are no available vaccines to prevent the disease.
The mission of Drug Search for Leishmaniasis is to identify potential molecule candidates that could possibly be developed into treatments for Leishmaniasis. The extensive computing power of World Community Grid will be used to perform computer simulations of the interactions between millions of chemical compounds and certain target proteins. This will help find the most promising compounds that may lead to effective treatments for the disease.
A software programme called VINA from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, will be used to perform the virtual chemistry experiments. These virtual experiments will search to find which of millions of drug compounds might be able to disable particular proteins, essential for the parasite's survival. Screening for the best potential drug compounds is an early step in the process of developing effective treatments for the disease.
With enough computing power, this screening can be done much more quickly than using conventional laboratory experiments. However, existing computer facilities available to the researchers would require approximately 120 years to perform the screening. The power of World Community Grid can reduce the time required to less than one year. Information about the best candidate compounds will be published by the scientists, and this information will be available in the public domain for other scientists to build upon with their research. Further laboratory work using the best candidates identified by this project could lead to the development of better drugs to fight Leishmaniasis.