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How a New App is Helping Fight Elderly Alzheimer’s

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on

In today’s day and age of technology, it seems as if there is an app for everything (and there almost is). You can control the lights in your home, keep track of the number of steps you take per day, and even help in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. That’s right–there’s an app you can run on your phone or computer that can help scientists find the cure for Alzheimer’s. Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care in Placer County, brings you the following.

Folding@Home

The app was developed by a Stanford chemistry professor by the name of Vijay Pande, and it uses the power of your phone or computer to simulate the various protein structures that are associated with the disease. While the team could use a supercomputer to process the information, these are expensive and costly to maintain. Distributed computing, or the process by which Folding@Home utilizes more than 150,000 CPUs (including those in mobile devices), provides an even better outlet. In fact, studies have shown that with the combined CPU power, the app functionality surpasses that of the world’s fastest supercomputers. It might sound complicated, but the only thing that the user is required to do is download the app and run it. You don’t have to be a chemistry professor, and you don’t even have to have a special interest in Alzheimer’s.

What Does “Folding” Mean?

It is believed that Alzheimer’s gets started within the body whenever certain proteins, which are supposed to be neat and linear in nature, start folding in on themselves. When this occurs, the proteins can no longer work as they should and any number of diseases can occur. However, proteins can fold themselves in milliseconds, so it is difficult for researchers to watch the process take place in a laboratory. That’s exactly why the Folding@Home app was developed–it allows users around the world to use their phones and other devices to run simulations. The data that is collected is sent to scientists for analysis.

Currently, there are 150,000 computers and phones out there running the Folding@Home program. While it can be run on just about any computer and operating system, it is currently only available for the Xperia Z series smartphone from the Google Play store at this time. However, all other Android 4.4 users should be able to find it later this year.

For more information on senior health and wellbeing, reach out to Home Care Assistance in Placer County. We are the area’s trusted provider of live-in, hourly, and specialized senior care, and our caregivers can help your senior loved one maintain a healthy, happy life. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule a free in-home consultation with one of our experienced Care Managers. Give us a call at (916) 226-3737. We look forward to hearing from you!

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