EGI video about cone snails premieres in Taipei

Stories from the grid - episode 1 (video)

Today the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) launched their new online video series “Stories from the grid” at the International Symposium on Grids and Clouds in Taipei. The first episode is about how a component of the toxic venom used by the cone snail is being modified using the aid of computer models to help produce new anaesthetics and alleviate the muscle spasms caused by the condition dystonia.

EGI is a pan-European project providing access to computing resources for researchers through a distributed computing infrastructure called a grid. The diverse range of science supported by EGI is being showcased in the series of short online videos. Each episode focuses on a particular piece of research that would have been near impossible without EGI.

The first video looks at how Henry Hocking from the CONCO project (see www.conco.eu) has used the grid to analyse naturally occurring molecules in venoms used by marine snails to immobilise their prey. They hope to be able to use their work to synthesise an artificial molecule that specifically targets and blocks the transmission of pain signals to create better muscle relaxants that have anaesthetic properties. “At the end of the day we just want to get our work done,” explains Henry, ”but science has changed and computing has become integral to what we do on a daily basis. Without the resources provided through EGI we would not be at the stage we are today.“

EGI prides itself on providing expert computing without the need to be a computer expert. So to help CONCO use the grid, EGI worked closely with the WeNMR project. “We have been working on the European grid since 2009,” explains Alexandre Bonvin from WeNMR, who is also featured in the video. “In that time we have developed tools to ensure that scientists coming to us get up and running as soon as possible. They are not interested in having to spend weeks getting to grips with a new technology, they just want their results.”

The video was premiered during Alexandre Bonvin’s keynote speech at the International Symposium on Grids and Clouds in Taipei this morning. The first episode of Stories from the grid, “The cone snail and the search for powerful new anaesthetics”, can be seen at http://go.egi.eu/conco