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


 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
E. Zachary KnightA woman author shares her experience submitting her manuscript to publishing agents under a man's name. http://jezebel.com/homme-de-plume-what-i-learned-sending-my-novel-out-und-172063762708/04/2015 - 1:21pm
james_fudgeme either. They are rolling it out in phases.08/04/2015 - 12:41pm
Big PermI haven't got my notification yet, even though I reserved it the day the pop up came.08/04/2015 - 12:27pm
james_fudgeThanks Matthew. I have not yet installed Windows 10, but the complaints about it have been minimal.08/04/2015 - 12:19pm
benohawkhttp://goo.gl/6yZ7EO suggests you can kill it all, but I haven't tested it on my system as of yet. And I wouldn't recommend digging in the registry or playing around withdisabling services for most users08/04/2015 - 12:18pm
Matthew Wilsonyes you can turn it off08/04/2015 - 12:15pm
james_fudgeCan you completely disable it though? I think you can minimize what it collects.08/04/2015 - 12:06pm
benohawkThe Win 10 data collection sounds scary, but I think it would be just too much data to be useful08/04/2015 - 11:57am
benohawkNo need to apologize Big Perm08/04/2015 - 11:55am
benohawkThe changing to 0 only being a 1 was local security policy change, not the reghack08/04/2015 - 11:49am
Big PermSorry Beno, it looks like you're right.08/04/2015 - 11:49am
Big PermFrom what I've heard (and obviously I could be wrong here), but I hear even setting it to "0" in the registry will only change to "1" or "Basic" collection. I'll try to find the article I got this from08/04/2015 - 11:40am
benohawkBig Perm, you can disable telemetry, just not through the gui. It's a matter of adding a registry key and disabling a couple services08/04/2015 - 11:34am
Big PermBlazers w/ t-shirts trigger me. This madness must be stopped08/04/2015 - 10:36am
PHX Corphttps://twitter.com/JimSterling Jim Sterling's commentary of the Xbox Gamescom event08/04/2015 - 9:34am
Big PermI'm talking about not being able to fully disable telemetry unless you have Enterprise software. It's just creepy to me08/04/2015 - 9:31am
TechnogeekBig Perm: If you're talking about the image I think you are, then no, not really. The claims it makes are, at best, extremely misleading in many instances.08/04/2015 - 9:28am
E. Zachary KnightBig Perm, That would make logical sense, so of course YouTube would not allow you to set your subscription page as the home page.08/04/2015 - 9:14am
Big PermBy the way. Anyone else kind of spooked by Microsofts data collection that's being reported about Win10? Thinking of finally trying a linux box for general use and Windows for gaming only08/04/2015 - 8:59am
Big PermCan you set youtube to load subs instead of recommendations first?08/04/2015 - 8:54am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician