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“Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists”

An excellent MSNBC Cosmic Log article on UW’s Foldit game for protein folding and protein structure calculation.

“For more than a decade, an international team of scientists has been trying to figure out the detailed molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. Such enzymes, known as retroviral proteases, play a key role in the virus’ spread — and if medical researchers can figure out their structure, they could conceivably design drugs to stop the virus in its tracks.”

“One floppy loop of the molecule, visible on the left side of this image, was particularly tricky to figure out. But players belonging to the Foldit Contenders Group worked as a tag team to come up with an incredibly elegant, low-energy model for the monkey-virus enzyme.”

“‘People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,’ Seth Cooper, a UW computer scientist who is Foldit’s lead designer and developer, explained in a news release. ‘Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans.’”

Read the MSNBC article here.  Article on this breakthrough from The Scientist herePCMag here.

Play Foldit here.

September 18, 2011