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How an App Is Pioneering the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

By Ilse du Bernard, 9:00 am on

A new app called Folding@home is helping in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by using idle smartphones to contribute to research. The app, released in a partnership by Sony and Stanford University, is a unique computing project that’s operated out of Pande Lab at Stanford University. 

The project involves studying protein folding simulations to find out how diseases like Alzheimer’s may develop from protein misfolding. The goal of the project is to help with drug research and perform calculations using the power of tens of thousands of idle smartphones. 

Proteins are complex molecules that play many important roles in the body, including performing most of the work in cells. To carry out their functions, proteins must fold into a specific shape. When proteins don’t fold properly, they can’t function as they need to and they may clump together. This can result in several diseases, including Alzheimer’s. 

Folding@home was created in 2000 with the original goal of simulating the folding of a specific protein for breast cancer research. According to researchers, the protein needs 300,000 nanoseconds to fold. A single smartphone can perform the calculations to simulate a single nanosecond per day over eight idle hours. This means 10,000 smartphones would be necessary to finish the protein folding simulation within a month. 

According to home care agencies in The Woodlands, by harnessing the power of thousands of idle smartphones, Folding@home can accomplish in weeks or months what it would take a single powerful computer decades to simulate. 

The new project focuses on investigating proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s. Folding@home has already led to important research over its 15-year history. Now, it may help find a new treatment or even a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. 

The app is free to download and it’s available for Android and iOS devices as well as Windows, Linux, and OS computers.

If your aging loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you’re unsure what comes next, Home Care Assistance can help. Our trusted Alzheimer’s and dementia care in The Woodlands provides seniors the support needed to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle in the comfort of home. Find out more about our comprehensive care services by calling 832-412-1345 and requesting a free in-home consultation.