I’m excited to announce today our new initiative for Folding@home on Android Mobile phones, with a beta version being released today. In collaboration with Sony, we have brought Folding@home to Sony Mobile phones starting today with broader Android support in the coming months. The rationale for moving FAH to mobile phones is simple: there are millions of phones and they are becoming extremely powerful. Indeed, with our open source OpenMM code (http://openmm.org) optimized for mobile phones, we get performance comparable to what we were getting on desktops just a few years ago. Moreover, we have completely rewritten our server backend in order to handle the needs of mobile devices. In particular, our Streaming Backend (also known by its internal project name ‘ocore’) can seamlessly distribute work from one phone to another, so even a short amount of compute time on a phone can make an immediate contribution to our project.
With the computer power available, we plan on tackling two key challenges. First out the door is a project on breast cancer. In this project, we are investigating the nature of drug resistance mutations in key proteins (kinases) that are targets for breast cancer drugs. By studying the nature of how these mutations change these key drug targets, we will be able to both advance our basic biophysical understanding of these key proteins as well as build a tool to be used for patient specific breast cancer treatment –– by sequencing the tumor and seeing what mutations are present, our tool seeks to recommend the best drug for a specific patient. Next, we plan to follow this project with a protein folding project, related to misfolding disease (eg Alzheimer’s Disease).
Note that this is a first beta release and certain elements are not in place just yet. Nevertheless, we’re very excited about this next step forward, both that we’re moving into a new space but also that we’ve put the pieces in place such that mobile can make a significant contribution. We have other projects going on as well, so look for other announcements in 2015 for additional FAH initiatives.