Sony Xperia Devices Aim to Cure Alzheimers While you Sleep

  • Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
  • Author: Tim Maytom
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alzheimers research folding at homeSony has launched a new app for its Xperia mobile phones that enables the devices to use idle processor power to contribute towards research into Alzheimers.

The Folding@Home app harnesses the processing power of Xperia devices when they are charging, have already reached 100 per cent power, and are connected to wi-fi. If they meet all three criteria, the app uses the idle processor to explore the science of protein folding, where abnormalities that cause Alzheimers originate.

Scientists have been running the Folding@Home lab since early in the 2000s, which hopes to unlock the mysteries of protein folding, which is critical in the search for a cure to degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and cancer.

Sony has a long association with the project, having worked with researchers at Stanford University since 2012 to test the computational possibilities of using the global smartphone ecosystem to help grow our understanding.

A single Xperia smartphone processor typically runs at around 30 GLOPS, meaning that half a million smartphone users running the Folding@Home app could more than double the power of the entire power of the existing Folding@Home network.

“In order to publish a new paper, something that represents a genuine step forward, we would need about 150,000 phone days, thats one phone running 24/7,” said Dr Vijay Pande, a key member of the Folding@Home team. “Split that up amongst 10,000 phones though, and all of a sudden youre looking at two weeks.”

“The increase in computing capacity is having a real effect on what we can achieve, for example our work was recently used in a paper that featured in the Journal of Medial Chemistry on small-molecule drug candidates for the treatment of Alzheimers. Its not a cure yet, but it is a major step forward, that brings a cure closer.”