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Medicine Idle

Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-that-tetris-paying-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade. The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules. After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks."
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Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 18, 2011 @09:52PM (#37437526)

    I'm sure that, despite figuring out the protein structure, that the gamers won't receive any of the patent royalties that the patent will likely generate.

  • Re:Avoid SGC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sasayaki (1096761) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @10:29PM (#37437680)

    You've obviously never heard about Wikipedia's Poke'mon problem. At one stage, there was more about Poke'mon (as in, a ludicrously large amount more) on Wikipedia than there was about World War II.

    Hence the creation of Bulbapedia. The Poke'mon Problem probably still holds though.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @11:45PM (#37437940)
    I "played" this for several months after it first came out. Was reasonably good, not one of the top players but often in the top 30 to 100. Stopped after they added an awful and intolerable music score to it, and gave no way to disable the music. Muting the entire computer wasn't a real option, both because other sound effects made by the "game" were important feedback and because muting would impact other things running on the same computer. Multiple requests to give an option to disable the music (or other alternatives like just removing it) were completely ignored without response. Knowing that if I listened to the "music" any longer I was likely to start killing people, I decided it was prudent to stop running the program. So my question is have they fixed the "music" yet and who decided it was important to force their music choice on all folders rather than just let us run our choice of music players and music on our computers if we wanted music.
  • by ralphdaugherty (225648) <ralph@ee.net> on Monday September 19, 2011 @12:02AM (#37437984) Homepage

    Several items to note on this:

    - kudos to researchers for bringing in gamers to gain some understanding on solving tghis problem

    - kudos to the FoldIt programmers for making this 3D structure puzzle a solvable problem. They also constantly refined the puzzle based on feedback from the gamers.

    - Not mentioned so far is the incredible importance of finding a workable structure to the retroviral protease enzyme, and that the researchers noted the structure may provide the opportunity to be blocked. If so that would appear to this layman of a nearly universal cure for viruses that insert DNA into chromosomes. I may be overstating that but I don't think it's limited to AIDS.

    - There are many other puzzles to be solved for cellular components from what I read. This is clearly one of utmost importance, but I imagine there are others to solve now.

    - This reminds me from what I read of the widespread efforts of laymen participation in solving important mathematical puzzles in the 1500's to 1800's.

    - I don't know about this having a real useful impact to primary education, other than wow interest factor, but seems to be something that could be ongoing challenges, real "games" to solve if you will, for some time to come. There are innumerable puzzles to be solved at this level.

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