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September 20, 2011

Gamers use Foldit to advance AIDS research

A study published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/zoran/NSMBfoldit-2011.pdf) describes how gamers used the online protein folding modeling game Foldit (http://fold.it/portal/) to correctly discover the structure of a protein used in AIDS research.

A Gizmodo article describes the problem:
"The enzyme in question is the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus retroviral protease, and researchers have been seeking ways of deactivating it as a way of developing new anti-HIV drugs. Unfortunately, the conventional efforts of computers and scientists have come up short for years."

This is not the first problem of this type that Foldit users have solved - their website links to some other examples, as well as other current real world scientific problems Foldit players are working to solve (http://fold.it/portal/info/science)

The full citation to the article is:
Khatib, Firas, et al "Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players." Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Published online: 18 September 2011.

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