"The Hartwell Center is dedicated to research that will benefit children, and in the long run, the research will benefit all people who suffer from some of the same catastrophic diseases that threaten children around the world," Naeve said. "In that sense, although this is a St. Jude resource, it will produce knowledge that will be a resource for the entire world."
"Our goal is to help St. Jude use information technology to quicken the pace of clinical research into children's diseases," said James Coffin, Ph.D., vice president, IBM Life Sciences. "The selection of the right technology was very important to St. Jude because of the complexity of the projects and the volume of data that researchers are dealing with in their investigations. We are very pleased that they chose IBM's BladeCenter for their computing needs."
One of the St. Jude projects uses the new computing power to study the motion of enzyme molecules in order to determine how these proteins work, and how mutations in them change or destroy their ability to do their jobs, Naeve said. Enzymes are large proteins that control the speed of specific biochemical reactions in the body. Many diseases are caused by malfunctioning enzymes.
"Shape is everything to a protein," Naeve said. "Mutations that change a protein's shape can derail the protein's function and disrupt the normal function of the cell. And the shape of a potential drug molecule determines whether it will interact properly with its target in the body."
A second project that has benefited from the supercomputer is the study of the flexibility of a tumor suppressor protein called p27, and how the flexibility affects the protein's function. The supercomputer cut computation time from 200 hours to just 20.
Another project that is benefiting from the supercomputer is a study that screens various molecules to determine if they might be effective drugs agai
Contact: Bonnie Cameron
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital