CBS Local — Scientists believe there are about 39 trillion bacteria cells in the human body; much more than the number of regular cells each person has in them. It might sound like a problem but most of that bacteria is harmless and even plays a vital role in the digestive system.
Some researchers believe that there are some harmful effects, however, pointing at possible links to illnesses like diabetes and Crohn’s disease. With so much to still learn about these cells, IBM is asking for help in mapping the human microbiome. IBM isn’t just turning to scientists and medical professionals to map the three million unique bacterial genes in the microbiome, the computer giant is reaching out to anyone with a computer to pitch in.
IBM’s crowd-sourcing network, known as the World Community Grid, is recruiting volunteers to help add to the company’s massive computer power. According to reports, the project is so massive that researchers simply don’t have enough juice in their computers to complete the research. The volunteers would be granting IBM the ability to tap into their computer to run more tests.
Each person would download software that, “automatically detects when a computer can offer spare processing power, then taps it to run virtual experiments on behalf of researchers,” according to a statement by IBM. World Community Grid is stressing that no one’s personal files will be accessed during the project.
“We bring in IBM security experts to constantly test the system for vulnerabilities according to the latest threats,” World Community Grid’s Juan Hindo says.
Researchers from several universities will oversee the microbiome project. Their goal is to find new ways to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases associated with this still unmapped region of the body.