The research team is led by Dr Igor Jurisica at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and scientists at Princess Margaret Hospital and University Health Network.
The scientists are the first from Canada to use IBM's World Community Grid network of PCs and laptops with the power equivalent to one of the globe's top five fastest supercomputers.
The team will use the grid to analyse the results of experiments on proteins using data collected by scientists at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in Buffalo, New York.
The researchers estimate that this analysis would take conventional computer systems 162 years to complete.
Dr Jurisica anticipates that the analysis could be finished in one to two years, and will provide researchers with a better way to study how proteins function, which could lead to the development of more effective cancer-fighting drugs.
"We know that most cancers are caused by defective proteins in our bodies, but we need to better understand the specific function of those proteins and how they interact in the body," he said.
"We also have to find proteins that will enable us to diagnose cancer earlier, before the symptoms appear, to have the best chance of treating the disease or potentially stopping it completely."
The research team now has more than 86 million images of 9,400 unique proteins that could be linked to cancer captured in the course of more than 14.5 million experiments by colleagues at Hauptman-Woodward.
Dr Jurisica said that this resource comprises the most comprehensive database on the chemistry of a large number of proteins, a resource that will help researchers around the world unlock the mystery of how many cancers grow.
Cancer-busters tap into grid computing
By Robert Jaques on Nov 8, 2007 7:35AM