International Business Machines Corp (IBM) announced Wednesday that researchers seeking to learn more about common autoimmune diseases are using its World Community Grid to map millions of bacterial genes living in human microbiomes and using help from the general public.

The World Community Grid powers enormous amounts of crowd-sourced computing power to large scale environmental and health research projects. It uses data from over 730,000 computers and Google (GOOGL) Android devices on which users download an app that sends spare computing power not being used to scientists and researchers performing virtual experiments.

For this Microbiome Immunity Project, IBM is partnering with MIT, Harvard, UC San Diego, the Flatiron Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. The group will use surplus processing power from volunteers' computers to conduct experiments aimed at mapping the three million bacterial genes found in the human microbiome.

Data generated from the research project will begin with the digestive system and determine contributing factors to common autoimmune disorders including Type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

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