Scientists know a lot about the human microbiome, but there is much more they do not know. We have trillions of bacteria in and all over our bodies. Healthcare providers know bacteria play a role in the development of a number of diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, but researchers don’t yet know exactly how. Taking antibiotics can often cure bacterial disease, but at the same time the antibiotic will kill “good” bacteria in our gut. (This why many providers recommend taking over-the-counter probiotics to replace the lost bacteria.)
The Microbiome Immunity Project hopes to gain an understanding of the microbiome in years which traditionally would take decades. The scale of the research is enormous: the microbiome has about 3 million unique bacterial genes, compared to the human body with about 20,000 genes. To study the proteins corresponding to each of these genes will require an immense amount of computing power, not typically available to scientists. Hopefully, the solution lies in the World Community Grid, a huge network of computing power donated by volunteers from all over the world.
The World Community Grid has brought hundreds of thousands of people and millions of computers together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power from users’ PCs. Although the PC will be the minority participant in the networked world compared to tablets and smartphones, there are millions of PCs out there, and most of them are utilized a very small percentage of the time. Instead of throwing old PC’s away, you can connect them to the World Community Grid, and let your spare computational capacity be deployed toward finding a cure for cancer and other diseases such as Ebola and Zika.
In January 2016, I built a PC, something I have wanted to do for a long time. (I posted a separate story and picture about the project). The PC is on a table in a closet in my Florida home. It is 100% dedicated to the World Community Grid. I first joined the grid on November 17, 2004. Since that time, my various PCs I connected to the Grid have contributed more than 17 years of computing power, working on supporting various projects of scientists around the world. For the past 18+ months, the dedicated PC in my closet has been working on the OpenZika project. Beginning today, it will be 100% dedicated to the Microbiome Immunity Project.