How Gaming Helped AIDS Researchers

September 19, 2011 -

A research paper published Sunday by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology details how the online game Foldit successfully mapped a protein-cutting enzyme from a particular AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. This enzyme apparently helps the virus spread and to counteract it, its exact molecular structure had to be mapped. This task had been impossible until crowd sourcing came along.

University of Washington chemist Firas Khatib and computer scientist Seth Cooper handled the Foldit program's design and implementation. In a statement issued to the press, Cooper said that people are what truly made the difference in solving this monumental problem.

"People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at. Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans."

Khatib spoke with Seattle Weekly about the project last night, saying that this breakthrough was "huge" for science more than for aids because it could prove to be helpful to researchers throughout the world who could use the extra help with complex problems.

"This is the first case that were aware of where online gamers solved a scientific problem that hadn't been able to be cracked by all scientific methods developed," Khatib says. "My big hope is that other scientists with challenging problems they can't solve and have been banging their heads over for years will come to us and say 'can you help?'"

Khatib says that Foldit's success comes mostly from being an online competitive game. The game has around 236,000 registered players since it launched in 2008. By putting real-time scores and rankings that change based on how well-designed players make their molecular structures, the program takes advantage of the competitive nature of gaming to accomplish something real.

"If we had just posted it as 'hey, can you help us?' I think we would have gotten a few volunteers and some would have stuck around," Khatib says. "But the fact that there is this competitive aspect, that unleashes a lot more motivation."

The next step, says researchers, is for Foldit players to create new genetic structures related to the Flu virus.

"We want to have players design a protein that will inhibit the flu virus," Khatib says. "This is just the start."

Source: Seattle Weekly


 
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WonderkarpAny of you guys watch Game Grumps? They have an episode detailing alot of the bugs in the hilariously bad Sonic Boom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3Jb3A0HLe4&list=UU9CuvdOVfMPvKCiwdGKL3cQ11/26/2014 - 4:19pm
Andrew EisenI'm blanking. What's MMS?11/26/2014 - 4:16pm
james_fudgeI keep an eye on it for really good deals11/26/2014 - 4:00pm
MaskedPixelanteEhh, MSS is only half off, I can wait for it to go under 1011/26/2014 - 3:48pm
NeenekoWhich is why I completely ignore the site.11/26/2014 - 3:15pm
james_fudgeAHHH Someone bar the door and keep the kids away from the credit cards!11/26/2014 - 3:14pm
Neo_DrKefkaThe Ralph Retort is a toxic mess and the guy is literally building his career on the back of the GamerGate movement. Whether you believe GamerGate is right or wrong this is a man profiteering on this war.11/26/2014 - 2:56pm
WonderkarpTHE STEAM SALES HAVE BEGUN!11/26/2014 - 2:16pm
MaskedPixelanteUnless you have said DLC already, then you can get the equally broken FarCry 4.11/26/2014 - 2:15pm
WonderkarpI love Boogie. He's awesome.11/26/2014 - 2:02pm
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/ubisoft-apologizes-for-assassins-creed-unity-with-free-1663768202 [Sarcasm]Ubisoft Apologizes for making a broken game, gives out free dlc for said broken game[/sarcasm]11/26/2014 - 1:53pm
Andrew EisenIt's a cute joke to make but it’s important to note that the person's view is not gendered. It's not about not supporting a female dev, it's about not supporting GamerGate. Gender is irrelevant in this case.11/26/2014 - 1:10pm
Neo_DrKefkaToo add what Andrew said about the The Ralph Retort it is no different from what you read at Gawker. I remember reading The Ralph Retort on how Boogie was the bad guy from being on the fence until he jumped to the GamerGate side.11/26/2014 - 12:42pm
Wonderkarpthat, I do not know the answer too. I see some people saying they wont vote for her because of it. I'm pointing out the irony.11/26/2014 - 12:31pm
Andrew EisenIs this call to not vote for her game widespread or is it just the one tweet from the one guy?11/26/2014 - 12:19pm
Wonderkarphttps://twitter.com/GMShivers here's her twitter if you wanna look. I didnt see any harassment. 11/26/2014 - 12:07pm
Andrew EisenI'm just curious what kind of GamerGater the dev is. Does she harass people? If so, I could understand the desire not to support her. "Very Pro-GG" doesn't tell me anything.11/26/2014 - 12:05pm
NeenekoWhile boycotts have their place, small ones like that just hurt small producers for no real gain. It is just being petty.11/26/2014 - 12:02pm
WonderkarpI'm addicted too their deals :P When I find an alternative, I'll drop Kotaku :P. you Tease cause you care though :)11/26/2014 - 11:57am
Andrew EisenWarning, light teasing incoming. Ahem. So, not only could you not go a full four hours without reading The Ralph Retort, but you read Kotaku? A site you say you're actively trying to convince others to stay away from? Wow!11/26/2014 - 11:56am
 

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