The current global pandemic can make you feel helpless and you are not doing enough to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. But if you have a smartphone, which 79% of the UK population owns, there is a simple way to help.
DreamLab is an application from the Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London that uses the power of your smartphone to facilitate research on diseases such as cancer. All you have to do is download the app and let it run on your smartphone overnight when you don’t usually use it: the crowdsourced app dumps the processing power of the device to create a virtual supercomputer who conducts the research.
This virtual supercomputer can process millions of calculations for university scientists; if they had to do these calculations manually, it would take about 300 years, but using the collective power of the smartphone, it only takes three months. DreamLab is now focusing on cancer research to focus on Covid-19 research in the new Corona-AI project.
Speaking on the project, Helen Lamprell, trustee and member of the board of directors of the Vodafone UK Foundation and legal advisor and director of external affairs for Vodafone UK, said: “We ask everyone to come together and d ” harness the collective power of their smartphones by connecting to DreamLab. If everyone in the UK logs in, we have the potential to really make a difference in the fight against Covid-19. “
The race is on to find a cure for the virus. In the United States, President Donald Trump is currently touting hydroxchloronquine – a drug commonly used against malaria – as an option to fight coronavirus. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no definitive evidence that it will work. According to BBC, there is currently insufficient evidence of its effectiveness and there are also risks of serious side effects, including kidney and liver damage.
The Corona-AI project hopes to help find a safe and effective cure for the coronavirus. The first phase of the project will use AI to analyze data from existing drugs and food-based molecules with antiviral properties that could help those suffering from the virus.
Dr. Kirill Veselkov of the Imperial’s Department of Surgery and Cancer, who leads the research, says the advantage of this research is that we already know that existing drugs are safe and can be given to patients quickly.
Then, the second phase will optimize the combinations of these molecules to provide potential drug treatments and nutritional advice to people with Covid-19.
“We have to do difficult and complicated analysis using AI and all of this requires a huge amount of computing power. DreamLab is creating a supercomputer that allows us to do this important work in a relatively short time, “he added.
You do not need to be a Vodafone customer to contribute to the research. If you are on Vodafone, you can activate the DreamLab application for free using either mobile data or WiFi connectivity. If you are on another network such as O2 or EE, you will be asked how much data you want to give to power the application, or simply connect via Wifi.
Using gadgets to fuel medical research is a smart idea and something that the Borderlands game is also exploring. Developers 2K and Gearbox have teamed up with McGill University and the American Gut Project to help map the human gut biome using the new Borderland Sciences mini-game.
The game focuses on learning the DNA of every microbe that lives in our body. This DNA is coded as a chain of bricks of four different shapes and colors. Players then connect these colored shapes to help scientists estimate the similarity between each microbe. Borderlands has around three million players and if they all contributed to this research, it could turn out to be revolutionary.
Download DreamLab from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now