News

Parabon Launches Crowdsourcing Initiative to Tackle Alzheimer's Disease with Computing Capacity Donated By Concerned Citizens

16 April 2014

George Mason University and Parabon collaborate on Compute Against Alzheimer's Disease (CAAD) research initiative

RESTON, Va, 16 April 2014 — Parabon Computation announced today the launch of the Compute Against Alzheimer's Disease (CAAD) research initiative, which will accelerate investigations into the causes and risks of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) through the application of large-scale computational capacity donated by concerned citizens and organizations. AD is a leading cause of death and dementia among the elderly, affecting nearly 40 million people worldwide. In addition to its devastating effect on patients and its emotional toll on their families, the societal costs of AD are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, yet there are no effective treatment options available today.

The CAAD software infrastructure, which is powered by idle, otherwise wasted computing capacity of potentially thousands of computers – ranging in power from laptops to Linux clusters – the program aims to become a vital platform for computationally intensive AD research. By downloading and installing a small, unobtrusive software application that, like a screensaver, operates only when a computer is not otherwise in use, volunteer providers can offer up the idle capacity from their computers to support the CAAD effort. The crowdsourcing of such spare capacity from computers around the globe will enable important AD research questions to be addressed that would otherwise be prohibitively time consuming. Individuals who wish to support the CAAD program can download the application and learn more about the research initiative by visiting ComputeAgainstAlzheimers.org.

Initially, CAAD will support two research projects. The first, led by Dr. Ellen McRae of Parabon NanoLabs, seeks to identify genetic biomarkers that, in combination, can be used to accurately predict an individual's risk of developing AD. Using newly available data from Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), McRae expects to perform some of the most in-depth analyses ever conducted into the connections between genetics and the risk of contracting AD. The results could allow early identification of individuals at risk for AD and give high-risk patients, young and old alike, the opportunity to undergo regular screening for signs of disease and to modify environmental risk factors.

The second project, directed by Dr. Dmitri Klimov of George Mason University, uses computer simulations to investigate how particular peptides, implicated with the onset of AD, damage neurons by their interaction at the surface of such cells. It can take months for a computer to simulate even a few nanoseconds of molecular activity of the type Klimov studies and thousands of exemplars are needed to draw statistically meaningful conclusions. With CAAD resources, he hopes to discover the molecular mechanisms responsible for neuron death in AD patients.

"It's great to see industry, academia and private citizens working together on such an important mission," says Dr. Vikas Chandhoke, VP of Research & Economic Development at George Mason University. "Mason is pleased to participate in such a worthwhile program."

Development of the scientific software that supports each of these respective projects has been partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Parabon has received Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards from NIH to support collaborations with Professor Klimov and, separately, with researchers at Dartmouth College, through which best-in-class technology from academia is translated into commercially viable applications that run on the company's Frontier Compute Platform, which powers the CAAD project.

"The great thing about the program is that it uses capacity that otherwise goes to waste to conduct research that could not otherwise be performed," said Parabon CEO, Dr. Steven Armentrout. "With the support of volunteer computation providers, this initiative has the potential to produce groundbreaking and clinically relevant research results, results that could lead directly to effective diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer's Disease."

Engage in the research initiative and join the global community of concerned citizens to help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease by following CAAD developments and discussions on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.

About Parabon Computation

Parabon, a veteran provider of enterprise computing software and professional services, delivers affordable, extreme-scale, distributed computing solutions to a wide variety of commercial, academic, and government customers, including such security-focused organizations as the US Department of Defense and the US Intelligence Community. A year after its 1999 founding, the company launched its flagship product, the Frontier Enterprise Computing Platform – a turnkey, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software solution that aggregates computing capacity from existing IT resources within an enterprise to rapidly stand up secure, high-performance virtual computing environments. Parabon also offers customers on-demand capacity via the company's pay-as-you-go online utility computing service, the Parabon Computation Grid.

For more information, please contact media@parabon.com, 703.689.9689 x250.