IBM is to devote the computational power of its World Community Grid to a project that will help scientists who are working on cancer treatments.
The World Community Grid, formed in November 2003, uses idle clock cycles on around 360,000 PCs across the world. The "Help Defeat Cancer" project will let researchers analyse large numbers of cancer biopsy specimens simultaneously.
"As a result of the Help Defeat Cancer project, World Community Grid makes it possible to analyse in one day the number of specimens that would take approximately 130 years to complete using a traditional computer," said Dr David J Foran, one of the scientists leading the project.
"Without World Community Grid, TMAs are processed in individual or small batches that are analysed on standard computers," Foran added.
Distributed computing systems such as the World Community Grid allow individuals to share spare processing cycles to create a powerful network
Last December, IBM announced that its Grid would be used to drive research into AIDS and HIV.Several other projects exist, including one to investigate climate change and another, founded back in 2001, which is helping scientists find anti-cancer drugs.