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Online Gamers Crack Enzyme Riddle


Science & Tech  (tags: interesting, environment, discovery, design, concept, computers, medicine, health, humans, technology, tech, study, research, investigation, geneticengineering, NewTechnology, news )

Penelope
- 1132 days ago - abc.net.au
Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or World of Warcraft: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.



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Penelope P. (222)
Sunday September 18, 2011, 4:43 pm
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-19/online-gamers-crack-enzyme-puzzle/2905314
Online gamers crack enzyme riddle
xploit was detailed on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular
they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade. Biology,



Posted September 19, 2011 07:04:05






























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Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or World of Warcraft: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
The exploit was detailed on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where - exceptionally in scientific publishing - both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.
Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.
Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them.
But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists need a 3-D picture that "unfolds" the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.
This is where Foldit comes in.
Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids - the building blocks of proteins - using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
Cracking the enzyme "provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs," says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
"We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed," Firas Khatib of the university's biochemistry lab said in a press release.
"The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."
One of Foldit's creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed.
"People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at," he said.
"Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."
 

Eileen Novak (444)
Monday September 19, 2011, 3:05 pm
I stand corrected. Video games really DO have merit. Unfortunately, I doubt this game, which is indeed a stroke of brilliance & worked too, will be flying off the shelves in popularity. I'll bet two retroviruses against one of your monomeric protease enzymes that this little game requires way too much thinking. That and no killing, car races or bimbos. I am hoping this "game" will become a prototype for other complex learing games.
Hey do any of you old foggies, remeber turning real pages, risking a fatal paper cut, and do our ciphering on a black-board with a stick of chalk? I don't, just saw a display at a museum of ancient 3-R's and fancified book-learnin'....(I lie too, I remember when papyrus got wet and flattened out to make spit-balls for warfare. Them's was da' days.
 

Dana W. (9)
Monday September 19, 2011, 7:16 pm
Cool story
 

Carol H. (229)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 6:33 am
wow, thanks Penelope
 

Douglas S. (1)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 7:20 am
Interesting read.
 

. (0)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 8:39 am
Cool guys!
 

Laura P. (24)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 9:09 am
noted. thanks.
 

Penelope P. (222)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 11:25 am
Could be VIP if they can crack AIDS among other deseases with this one! What with half of Africa disabled with it
and all
 

Roger Garin-michaud (68)
Tuesday September 20, 2011, 1:05 pm
great news, thanks !
 
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