Citizen science effort recruits gamers in fight against COVID-19

Citizen science effort recruits gamers in fight against COVID-19

Market news |
By Rich Pell

The #WeAreHEWMEN citizen science/crowdsourcing effort is intended to encourage the video game community to donate spare computer processing power to find treatments to fight the COVID-19 virus. To make it possible, BALANCED has launched the HEWMEN Cell application, a free secure download for 64-bit Windows 10 PCs that creates a virtual network to process drug discovery data for COVID-1, while Complexity is urging the gaming community to support the effort by downloading the HEWMEN app.

“If there’s one universal truth about gamers, it’s that they’re always looking for their next challenge,” says Robert M. Atkins, BALANCED CEO. “COVID-19 is the biggest threat to humanity and there’s no community in the world more engaged online than gamers. This makes them the perfect group to empower to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. When they hear the call to help, they will answer. It’s the moment they’ve been training for since they booted up their first video game.”

The company’s HEWMEN technology creates a distributed network that processes data-driven problems such as drug discovery and medical research. The HEWMEN Cell application, which uses small amounts of volunteer computers’ unused processing capacity, has integrated BOINC, an open-source “compute for science” software platform used for volunteer resources developed by the University of California, Berkeley that allows for the virtualizing of servers and applications inside a voluntary grid network.

The technology, says the company, has already been widely used with no security issues on millions of PCs. The HEWMEN Cell app was previously used by BALANCED and computational biologist John Wise, Ph.D., of Southern Methodist University’s Drug Discovery Lab, for finding co-medications to enhance the effect of chemotherapy in the treatment of recurrent, resistant breast and prostate cancers.

BALANCED, with John Wise, will harness the power of gamers to have the HEWMEN Cell app process information from more than 200,000 FDA-approved existing medications/compounds against models of the protein and enzymatic functions of COVID-19 to see which candidates prove most effective at reducing the virus’ pathology. Using these compounds, between 1.5 to 3 million virtual experiments will be run, simulating attempts to dock compounds to specific locations on the virus. By identifying the compounds with the highest probability of success, the effort will dramatically reduce development cycle time and get new treatments to market faster.

The HEWMEN Cell app can also combine human intelligence with the system’s machine learning by injecting scientific datasets into videogames. As players interact with the games, they add human intuition and insight into the process as they act upon scientific datasets to solve complex problems or help a computer vision algorithm learn to “read” a certain type of image.

BALANCED and Complexity Gaming also partnered recently on a medical research project on Twitch Interactive for World of Warcraft’s “Race to World First.” The 10-day livestreamed tournament invited viewers to become participants by playing BALANCED’s The Omega Cluster within Twitch streams, virtually processing medical compounds for cancer medicines through gameplay. Participants logged over 900 hours – or 23 40-hour work weeks – playing the Twitch Extension game.

Jason Lake, Founder and CEO, Complexity Gaming adds, “As with ‘Race to World First,’ we’re proud to partner with BALANCED to showcase the power of gaming and esports within our greater global community. We’re grateful to continue working with BALANCED not only to create an engaging new experience but also to be a part of something meaningful as we strive to find a solution to this global pandemic.”

BALANCED Media|Technology
Complexity Gaming

Related articles:
Nvidia to gamers: Use your GPUs to fight COVID-19
COVID-19 HPC Consortium masses supercomputing resources against virus
Nvidia joins HPC effort in COVID-19 fight


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