Using a collaborative online game called Foldit, scientists harnessed the skill set of gamers around the world. The game allows users to rearrange segments of a protein, with the goal of finding the structure most favored by nature.
This unorthodox approach was the brain-child of Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington. Because so many scientists have failed over the past decade, Khatib and his colleagues, out of desperation turned it over to the gaming world. “This was really kind of a last-ditch effort,” said Khatib.
When they gathered the results three weeks later, the scientists were shocked to discover that one group of gamers had found the answer. The gamers didn’t even need the full three weeks to do it. “They actually did it in less than 10 days,” Khatib remarked. And chances are they’re right. “Standard… methods showed within hours that the solution was almost certainly correct,” researchers reported. The researchers were able to use the Foldit solution to complete a refined structure within days.
Though not a cure for AIDS, it is a large step towards a treatment. Many parts are still left to be deciphered.
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Written By: Joseph Rouintree
Video taken from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGYJyur4FUA