Video game players have scored a collective win for science on a problem that’s stumped scientists for over a decade. Players of the free puzzle video game Foldit have solved the complex structure of a protein linked to AIDS in monkeys. This discovery provides insights into the design of antiretroviral drugs for humans, according to an international science team that reported the findings in the journal Nature.
Foldit is an interactive game developed by the Baker Laboratory of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Users twist and fold computer models of proteins to get them to relax in a sense to their lowest energy conformations, taking advantage of the human brain’s excellence at pattern recognition and 3-D visualization. Thousands of game players share their results and learn from each other. Ultimately, by determining the correct structure of complex proteins, scientists can find targets for new drugs for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, HIV, and malaria.
Bottom line: Video game players have solved the complex structure of a protein linked to AIDS in monkeys. This discovery provides insights into the design of antiretroviral drugs for humans.
In his years with EarthSky, Jorge Salazar conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists. He knows a lot about as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. Jorge currently works as a Technical Writer/Editor for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which designs and deploys powerful advanced computing technologies and innovative software solutions for scientific researchers.