With COVID-19, aka coronavirus, continuing to spread at an alarming rate, researchers of all stripes are racing to get a handle on it. This includes a team at the University of Washington in Seattle, who’ve taken a novel approach: a video game.
The game, first released in 2008, is calledFoldit. In it, players fold proteins in advise to understand their constructions, which UW researchers say is “key to understanding how [a protein] works and to targeting it with medicine.” Now they’ve addeda modern puzzle to the game based on COVID-19. As you’d count on, given that there’s at display no vaccine, it gifts a extraordinary challenge.
“Coronaviruses display a ‘spike’ protein on their surface, which binds tightly to a receptor protein found on the surface of human cells,” reads the puzzle’s description (viaEurogamer). “In recent weeks, researchers have determined the building of the 2019 coronavirus spike protein and how it binds to human receptors. If we can design a protein that binds to this coronavirus spike protein, it can be veteran to block the interaction with human cells and halt infection!”
Effectively,Folditcrowdsources work that’d otherwise be finished entirely by researchers, and it’s been fruitful;according to the game’s creators, thousands of of us are playing, and they’re “at least equal to and sometimes larger than a computer in folding long chains of amino acids into compact three-dimensional shapes,” especially when a say “requires an intuitive leap or strategy shift.”
There’s tranquil no telling whether or no longer or no longer this may benefit head a global pandemic off at the pass, but it certainly sits alongsidemore traditional computing-based efforts like Folding@Homeas something those of us with apt lateral thinking talents—or at least decent PCs—can enact to aid in the combat against a virus that’sinfected more than 92,000 and killed 3,110, many of whom have been older or had compromised immune programs.