Computer Gamers Decipher Structure of AIDS Enzyme
Posted on Sep 20, 2011
To the astonishment of scientists, online gamers deciphered the 3-D structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus in just three weeks, a feat that had evaded researchers for 10 years.
The gamers used a “fun for purpose” video game called “Foldit,” developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, to unwind chains of amino acids and create an accurate 3-D digital model of the monomeric protease enzyme, a “cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses,” including HIV. —BF
AFP on Yahoo Games’ Plugged In:
Cracking the enzyme “provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs,” says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Firas Khatib of the university’s biochemistry lab said in a press release. “The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems.”
Flickr / Chase N. (CC-BY-SA)