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Sony pulls plug on PlayStation 3 Folding@home research support

View Trophies, end of Folding@home

A PlayStation 3 system software update that hits internationally this week removes support for Stanford University's Folding@home project, company officials announced today.

In early November, PlayStation will stop offering the Life with PlayStation application. The update also marks the end of the Folding@home project, which was a distributed computing project aimed at understanding protein folding, misfolding and studying the causes of a variety of disease such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and cancers.

More than 15 million users have participated in the program from its first days on the PS3 in 2007.

"We'd like to thank the more than 15 million users that have participated in the program since it started on PS3 in 2007," Leon Sanders, PS3 Brand Manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, wrote on the official UK PlayStation Blog. "PS3 users have donated in total more than 100 million computation hours to the Folding@home project to date, and as a result, contributed greatly to Stanford University's Alzheimer's disease research. Considering the contribution PS3 has made to the project, we decided the termination as a result of discussions with Stanford University."

Vijay Pande, Folding@home research lead at Stanford University, called the contributions made by the PlayStation 3 community a "game changer" for their project. "It opened the door for new methods and new processors, eventually also leading to the use of GPUs," he wrote. "We have had numerous successes in recent years. Specifically, in a paper just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, we report on tests of predictions from earlier Folding@home simulations, and how these predictions have led to a new strategy to fight Alzheimer's disease.

"The next steps, now underway at Stanford, are to take this lead compound and help push it towards a viable drug. It's too early to report on our preliminary results there, but I'm very excited that the directions set out in this paper do appear to be bearing fruit in terms of a viable drug (not just a drug candidate)."

The update to the PS3 firmware — which will release on Oct. 23 for North America, Europe, Australia, Great Britain, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand — will also allow users to view Trophies on the PlayStation 3 that were earned playing PlayStation Vita games.

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