Monday 1 April 2013

Let's play!

All people like to play. What do you say if we can play and help science to make discoveries? I think, it is great. Fortunately, we have such opportunity with game FoldIt.

Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding.  The objective of the game is to fold the structure of selected proteins  to the best of the player's ability, using various tools provided within the game. The highest scoring solutions are analysed by researchers, who determine whether or not there is a native structural configuration that can be applied to the relevant proteins, in the "real world". Scientists can then use such solutions to solve "real-world" problems, by targeting and eradicating  diseases and creating biological innovations.

It really works! In 2011, players of Foldit helped to decipher the crystal structure  of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) retroviral protease , an AIDS-causing monkey virus . While the puzzle was available to play for a period of three weeks, players produced an accurate 3D model of the enzyme  in just ten days. The problem of how to configure the structure of the enzyme had stumped scientists for 15 years.

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