An abandoned computer found by one of the social workers in our Elder Care Team has been brought back to life and is now working 24/7 as part of an international project to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
WesFold, as the computer is called, sits on our Elder Abuse Response Service Desk, where it provides computing power for a project based at Stanford University called Folding at Home.
The aim of Folding at Home is to find cures for a range of diseases believed to be caused by misfolded proteins – such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis. The project harnesses the power of more than 100,000 home computers around the world to provide a combined computational prowess that rivals that of a national supercomputer.
“There is a growing body of evidence that targeting specific proteins in the body has the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s. That’s what WesFold is contributing to,” says Ken McDonnell, who found the abandoned computer on the footpath after visiting a client with dementia.
The computer was covered in dirt and ran a Linux operating system, which most people don’t know how to operate. However, that wasn’t a problem for Ken, an enthusiastic techy who soon had WesFold up and running again. It didn’t take him long to find a new purpose for the refurbished computer: helping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
“Our team works daily with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We know there is no cure, and we see the human, social, and emotional burden of these diseases.”
Elder Care Team manager Claire Booth (pictured with WesFold) says she’s delighted that Wesley Community Action can make a small but tangible contribution towards finding a cure for a disease that is on the increase as our population ages.
“As an organisation we’re working towards becoming Dementia Friendly; WesFold is another way of showing we are committed to meeting the needs of those whose lives are being changed by dementia.”