Linux Tackles Deadly SARS Virus

Apr 16, 2003

Dan Orzech

With the help of a cluster of PCs running Linux, Canadian researchers have made a major breakthrough in tackling the deadly SARS virus.

The scientists, at the Genome Sciences Centre at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, used a 232-node Linux cluster to uncover the genetic sequence of the coronavirus believed to be responsible for SARS.

The sequence was completed earlier this week, using one millionth of a gram of purified genetic material from Canadian patients with the virus, supplied by Canada?s National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

With the virus? genetic sequence in hand, doctors can begin working on a diagnostic test for the virus, as well as anti-viral medications to combat it.

The Linux cluster the scientists used to do the research was built over three years, according to IBM, which supplied the hardware and clustering software for the system. It contains several generations of Intel processors, ranging from 1 Ghz Pentium IIIs to 2.8 Ghz Xeon CPUs, all of them with one gigabyte of memory.

According to the New York Times, SARS has affected 3,042 people so far, causing the deaths of 154 of them in 22 countries and Hong Kong. The fatality rate has risen to 5.1 percent from 4 percent in recent days.


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