Sure has given a new lease of life to a number of servers, dedicating them to the fight against coronavirus via an online project called Folding@home, run by Stanford University.

Folding@home is a crowd-sourced supercomputer carrying out coronavirus protein sequencing to help better understand the virus. Viruses use proteins to suppress immune systems and reproduce themselves. While there are many experimental methods for determining viral protein structures, they only reveal a single snapshot of a protein’s usual shape and do not consider that proteins have lots of moving parts. The protein structures that scientists are unable to see experimentally may be the key to discovering a cure for coronavirus.

As calculations suggest that a coronavirus vaccine could take 18 months to develop, Sure has dedicated some physical servers to the Folding@home software which runs computer simulations to better understand the composition of viral proteins. The telecoms industry has played a critical role in providing connectivity during the lockdown and Sure hopes to contribute further by offering additional resources to Folding@Home.

Scott Kenyon, security architect at Sure, said: “As a group, we have been working hard to support the community and keep people connected during the coronavirus outbreak. Using some spare server capacity to assist the Folding@home initiative is our way of contributing to the wider fight against coronavirus and we have been running the software for over a month.

“Each simulation that you run is like buying a lottery ticket. The more tickets we buy, the better our chances of hitting the jackpot. For this reason, we have been talking to our engineers to see how we can run as many computer simulations as possible across the group and we would like to encourage the Guernsey community to download the Folding@home software and join the fight.”

To take part in the initiative, islanders will need to download the Folding@home software onto their computer. The software, which can be found on the Folding@home website, then downloads ‘work packages’ and carries them out in the background or when the computer is idle. Folding@home provides the option to be a part of a team and encourage users to rack up simulations together. There are several Guernsey teams however to encourage as many islanders as possible to take part, Sure has created its own team which users can join by simply adding the team number 256994 when installing the software.

Ryan Bourgaize, an engineer at Sure who has spearheaded the company’s involvement, added:

“We’re looking forward to seeing the island get involved with Folding@home and hope that by creating a team, the community can feel as though they are doing their part in the pandemic.

“We’re proud to support this initiative as it’s our way of assisting the push towards the light at the end of the tunnel and the end of lockdown. Folding@home is even being supported by Microsoft Azure’s chief technology officer, Mark Russinovich, who recently tweeted that they too have contributed some computers.”

To see how many simulations the Sure team have done so far, visit https://stats.foldingathome.org/team/256994 and for more information on Folding@home visit https://foldingathome.org/covid19/

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