EXTON, Pa., - A new effort, being introduced today, aims to make it possible for medical researchers to develop small molecules that can be used to prevent, treat and find cures for a wide range of debilitating diseases by enlisting the help of volunteers around the world and using their idle computer time.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the sixth annual international Rare Disease Day, sponsored by EURORDIS, a non-governmental patient-driven alliance of patient organizations representing 561 rare disease patient groups in 51 countries worldwide. The theme of this year's activities is "Rare Disorders Without Borders," citing the urgent need for global cooperation in the field of rare diseases.
Quantum Cures will initially enlist the help of tens of thousands of computer users around the United States who are willing to allow their computers to be used for research purposes during off-hours. Medical researchers funded by advocacy groups have many "targets," known proteins that are implicated in disease pathways, but have been limited in their ability to test millions of potential drugs in their labs. Quantum Cures is designed to provide those researchers with the computing resources they need to concentrate their research.
The primary focus of this effort is so-called "orphan and rare diseases," which traditionally do not receive the attention or research and development efforts of the world's major pharmaceutical companies, even though they may affect millions of people worldwide. "Orphan," or "neglected," diseases include isolated spina bifida, cleft palates, Hodgkin's lymphoma, sleeping sickness and more.
According to a 2005 report from the National Institutes of Health Office of Rare Diseases, there are 6,000–7,000 rare diseases affecting a total of 25 million Americans, with one in every 10 Americans receiving a diagnosis of a rare disease during their lifetimes. The FDA estimated in 2005 that, despite the lack of research into finding causes and cures for them, the vast majority of rare diseases may be serious or life threatening.
Quantum Cures' volunteer-based approach has been successfully used as part of the "SETI@Home" project, a scientific experiment run by the University of California-Berkeley (UC). More than three million volunteers have allowed their Internet-connected computers to be used in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), a figure Quantum Cures believes is replicable for its efforts.
"There is substantial interest in and reason to pursue development of treatment and cures for a wide range of diseases which have, up until now, not received the attention they deserve," said Lawrence Husick, Quantum Cures co-founder. "By enlisting the help and computer time from many people, we can begin to deliver the resources needed to find the answers, and improve the quality of life of millions, both today and in the future." TeraDiscoveries, the company that developed Inverse Design™, the computational technique used in the Quantum Cures effort is contributing its software, developed in partnership with Duke University and Microsoft Corporation, at cost.
Others taking an active role in the initial phase of Quantum Cures as board members and technical advisors include:
- Ed Addison, co-founder of TeraDiscoveries, Inc. and adjunct faculty member, North Carolina State University;
- Stephen Sinclair, M.D., a medical researcher, retinal surgeon, and adjunct professor of ophthalmology at Drexel University Medical School; and
- Joseph Becker, M.D., a diagnostic radiologist and visiting professor of radiology at Temple University Hospital and School of Medicine, Cooper University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Christiana Healthcare System.
The free screen saver software needed to take part in Quantum Cures will be available by the end of June on a limited basis at www.quantumcures.org. Those among the first to sign up will go on the "launch priority list," and given preference in downloading the software. People donating their computer time to be used for the research may be able to take a tax deduction for the time their machines are used.
About Quantum Cures Quantum Cures Foundation is a not for profit corporation located in Exton, PA, with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status applied for. The company is dedicated to solving rare, neglected and orphan diseases worldwide through the collaborative effort of public and private organizations, using advanced technology to discover new drugs and repurpose old ones for these diseases. The approach of the Quantum Cures Foundation is to use advanced computer molecular modeling to discover and characterize new drugs, then passing them on to foundation-supported researchers for further testing and development.