It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding. The game is part of an experimental research project, and is developed by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry. The objective of the game is to fold the structure of selected proteins as well as possible, 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 (or native state) 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.
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 been an unaccomplished goal of scientists for 15 years.
In January, 2012, Scientific American reported that the Foldit gamers achieved the first crowdsourced redesign of a protein. The protein is an enzyme which catalyses the Diels-Alder reactions widely used in synthetic chemistry. A team including David Baker in the Center for Game Science at University of Washington in Seattle computationally designed this enzyme from scratch but found the potency needing improvement. The Foldit players reengineered the enzyme by adding 13 amino acids and increased its activity by more than 18 times.
In general, I think that this type of occurrence is a testament to why modern communication, especially the internet, will push us to our next stage of understanding as a species.
originally posted by: stormcell
If you think how fast a virus can mutate, or how slowly humans take to evolve one generation, imagine the speed at which a whole crowd of internet gamers can play. Even if someone just played once and added, moved or deleted a few amino acids here and there, every change is equivalent to one or more generation. Multiply that by thousands if not hundreds of thousands and that's the equivalent of a million years of evolution.
originally posted by: kwakakev
A few questions that comes to mind is who ends up with the patents as commercial applications are developed? Does the game designer or players get any benefits or recognition? Or is it more open source, does anyone get to build their own protein chains as long as they have enough skill and experience to do it? How will any such agreements legally hold up and what is the world to do as these new tools continue to expand our capabilities?