On February 1, 2017, IBM announced the Smash Childhood Cancers Project. Through this program it provides free access to its “World Community Grid” for a global team of scientists battling childhood cancers. As a result, scientists have greater access to powerful computers for their research at no cost.

The World Community Grid consists of “CPU cycles” donated by everyday people like us. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can participate. Simply sign up and download and install a free app on your computer or Android device. When your device is idle, your spare compute cycles run experiments, and send the results to the research team who analyze the data. The World Community Grid includes thousands of PCs and mobile devices connected over the web. Since 2004, the World Community Grid has harnessed the power of more than 3 million devices and as a result, provided worthy causes with over one million years of computing time.

The Global Fight Against Childhood Cancer

Through the World Community Grid, the Smash Childhood Cancer Project has already discovered seven potential drugs. These drugs can destroy neuroblastoma cells in mice without causing any apparent side effects. They have the potential to lead to successful treatment in children.

As a result of this early success, Smash Childhood Cancer is planning to target other childhood cancers. These include cancers affecting the brain, kidney, central nervous system, liver, bone and other systems. Because of the World Community Grid, scientists with the Smash Childhood Cancer can run large-scale drug simulations. This may speed the search for treatments and cures.

We applaud IBM for opening up this supercomputing platform to researchers. As you know, we are very close to this issue, and through our work With Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, see first hand how devastating this can be. Every year, approximately 300,000 children and teens are diagnosed with cancer and about 80,000 die of cancer. And although the outlook for cancer diagnosis in children has improved greatly, the disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in this population beyond infancy.

For more information on the Smash Childhood Cancer project, we encourage you to watch their video.

~Michael and Frida Donner