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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quiknkoldagain, I dont accept any apology when I cant see their face when they give it to me. He needs to do a video, or do something positive like charity or whatever.10/22/2014 - 7:15am
Michael ChandraBut that's the case with every apology, isn't it?10/22/2014 - 5:57am
Michael ChandraDon't get me wrong. The guy from Gawker screwed up, and he acknowledged that and apologized. Whether people believe him is a second thing.10/22/2014 - 5:57am
Michael ChandraTranslation: "We screwed up but are denying it by saying we don't support groups that bully despite us doing exactly what such a group wanted us to do."10/22/2014 - 5:51am
InfophileAdobe: "Adobe sent Ars an e-mail that said, "Please read our Twitter response to this matter.""... You do realize Twitter isn't the best platform for an official response, right?10/22/2014 - 4:23am
Technogeekprh99: Gamergate and Adobe deserve each other.10/22/2014 - 2:55am
Andrew EisenAdam McKay directed cartoon about income inequality. https://screen.yahoo.com/we-the-economy/inequality-1-unbelievable-sweet-alpacas-175411663.html10/21/2014 - 8:54pm
prh99Bit.ly Maintainance here is the original http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/10/after-gamergate-tweet-adobe-distances-itself-from-gawker-bullying/10/21/2014 - 8:39pm
prh99Adobe calls out Gawker for GG bullying and backpedals...sort of. http://bit.ly/1pyM4Yg10/21/2014 - 8:35pm
Neo_DrKefkaThanks James. Means a lot.10/21/2014 - 7:24pm
prh99Nothing that hasn't been said.10/21/2014 - 6:52pm
Andrew EisenHaven't read it yet. I'm sharing this because I love the header image. http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/10/gamergate-should-stop-lying-to-itself.html10/21/2014 - 3:39pm
james_fudgeYou are one of us, you're a GPer, not a GGer :)10/21/2014 - 2:27pm
james_fudgeNeo_DrKefka: half of them don't know who that is, so no worries :)10/21/2014 - 2:27pm
Andrew EisenUpdate to the Paranautical Activity story. Dev leaves the studio. http://codeavarice.com/post/100592709238/mike-is-leaving-code-avarice10/21/2014 - 1:52pm
quiknkoldI'm sure you are, Andrew10/21/2014 - 1:44pm
Andrew EisenNintendo announced the Link amiibo is compatible with Hyrule Warriors. No idea how Nintendo expects anyone to give a toss if it don't tell us what it does. Then again, maybe I'm just being curmudgeonly.10/21/2014 - 1:25pm
Neo_DrKefkaSo Gamergate compared me to leftist Saul Alnsky....ME off all the people10/21/2014 - 1:16pm
IanCWell.... quite.10/21/2014 - 1:10pm
Andrew EisenWell of course. Girls don't buy figurines and guys don't buy figurines of girls. And no, the girls that buy figurines and the guys that buy figurines of girls don't count. The money belongs on the table, thank you very much!10/21/2014 - 12:43pm
 

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