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Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle

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posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 11:20 AM
Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.

The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where -- exceptionally in scientific publishing -- both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.

Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.

Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them.

But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that "unfolds" the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.

This is where Foldit comes in.

Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- using a set of online tools.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

Clicl link for remainder of story

posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 11:23 AM
Never under estimate the power of geeks in small groups

I really wish, with all the advances in computers as well as the ability of the newer generations to use them more efficiently / creatively, they would change up the manner research is done.

I think some of the more difficult oricesses should also be open to the public to assist in finding cures / answering questions etc. We might be able to resolve a lot of issues in years instead of decades with a reduced loss of life.


etc etc etc....

At least we took another step forward....

"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."

edit on 19-9-2011 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 12:14 PM

posted on Sep, 19 2011 @ 12:36 PM

Originally posted by Venomilk

lol not surprising...

mods please lock / delete


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