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Gamers succeed where scientists fail

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Gamers have solved the structure of a retrovirus enzyme whose configuration had stumped scientists for more than a decade.

The gamers achieved their discovery by playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules.

After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, they called in the Foldit players. The scientists challenged the gamers to produce an accurate model of the enzyme. They did it in only three weeks.

“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” says Firas Khatib, a researcher in the protein structure lab of David Baker, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington.

Full story at Futurity.

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