University of Washington

Who would’ve thought that gamers would be the ones to turn the medical world on its ear? It took only three weeks for some online gamers to decode the AIDS retrovirus protein. Something which scientists haven’t been able to do in their 10+ years of research. Since researchers couldn’t get past the enzyme structure of protease (protein largely responsible for how some viruses multiply), the University of Washington took on an initiative to try decipher protease’s cryptic structure. Here enters Foldit.

Foldit was created by the University of Washington within the past few years which takes problems which stump scientists and turn it into an interactive computer game that calls for players to use advanced problem solving skills to build proteins.

Thanks to some of the models generated, scientists have been able to identify targets for drugs to be used to block the sinister enzyme. The doors are now open for new antiretroviral drugs to be created and used to combat viral diseases like AIDS and HIV.

So I guess we should just leave it up to online gamers to solve all our problems. Perhaps world hunger is next?