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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Matthew WilsonI cant say anything though I am stupid lucky. I have a 75/75 line01/29/2015 - 11:27pm
Matthew Wilsonthat isnt awful 1.2MBs, but yeah 100bucks a month is over priced to all hell. ps 8mbs=1MBs01/29/2015 - 11:24pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.speedtest.net/my-result/410086446201/29/2015 - 9:12pm
ZippyDSMleeMatthew Wilson Dunlap, TN, its the only game in town and they only started in 08 or so.01/29/2015 - 9:12pm
MechaCrashThe explanation for the misanthropy of the character in Hatred comes from "we want to be super edgy and get those controversy dollars."01/29/2015 - 8:34pm
Andrew EisenI'm interested in giving it a try. I think it has some cool ideas but I haven't been "feeling it" when watching continuous gameplay.01/29/2015 - 8:04pm
Matthew Wilsonif you dont know, the code name STEAM demo is out, and it it downloading very slowly. It might be more popular that I thought, or it could just be the eshop.01/29/2015 - 8:02pm
Goth_SkunkPlayer/Playable Character, yes. As opposed to the NPC.01/29/2015 - 7:36pm
Andrew EisenOh, Player Character! Heh, that one took me a few moments!01/29/2015 - 7:29pm
Goth_SkunkIt really bothers me that there is no explanation for the PC's misanthropy. Even the Saw movie series, despite the level of violence in them, had a premise that fascinated me. The only thing about Hatred that fascinates me is the controversy.01/29/2015 - 7:27pm
Goth_SkunkI can't think of a time a game has made me simultaneously want to both buy it and not buy it. On the one hand, I find the premise disturbing and repulsive. On the other hand, I find the controversy fascinating and want to play it just to say I did.01/29/2015 - 7:25pm
Andrew EisenTrailer for new Van Damme movie, Pound of Flesh. "They just stole the wrong man's kidney!" http://vimeo.com/11808880501/29/2015 - 7:24pm
Andrew EisenNew Hatred trailer. Destructible environments, vehicles, light buildings and people on fire! http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/7bzwzs/hatred-devastation-gameplay-trailer01/29/2015 - 7:12pm
Goth_Skunk@WonderKarp: And that's why I don't read or watch mainstream news.01/29/2015 - 5:06pm
Matthew Wilsonzip is it KB or kb? if its KB its MB, if its kb is mb. ether way where do you live that you are getting ripped off that badly?01/29/2015 - 4:41pm
ZippyDSMleeI has a whole 1MB(mb mabye, 1000KBPS) for a whole...100$ a month ;_;01/29/2015 - 4:24pm
WonderkarpFCC appears to be kicking ass today01/29/2015 - 4:11pm
WonderkarpI found this neat. Shows the different ways different websites tell the same story. Not VG Related, but its neat https://i.imgur.com/3m6xOfE.jpg01/29/2015 - 2:12pm
Matthew Wilsonnp I am still suprised that the fcc did it, but I still do not trust the chairman yet.01/29/2015 - 2:11pm
Andrew EisenYeah, what I mean is I'm fortunate enough to live in an area where I have the option of up to 50Mbps if I want to pay for it. Meant that as an anecdote; didn't mean it to come across as a "you're wrong!" Sorry 'bout that!01/29/2015 - 2:06pm
 

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