A small detachment of gamers are being lauded for their part in producing an accurate model of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that will allow scientists to better understand the disease and develop new and more effective means of combating it. While scientists have been stumped for well over a decade in trying to figure out the structure of a particular monomeric protease enzyme that is part of the HIV family of viruses, online gamers were able to construct a working model in only three weeks through playing the game Foldit, developed in 2008 by by the University of Washington, which pits groups of players against each other in a competition to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins. As explained on the game’s website: “Since proteins are part of so many diseases, they can also be part of the cure. Players can design brand new proteins that could help prevent or treat important diseases.”
For more information on the science behind Foldit.