Foldit Is Helping Researches Understand Coronavirus
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle are taking a new approach at combating coronavirus, using a game known as Foldit to better understand it. The game initially released in 2008 and the idea is to fold proteins in order to understand their structures, creating three-dimensional shapes. The team has created an in-game puzzle that’s based on the structure of the COVID-19 virus, featuring a “spike protein” on its surface. The puzzle is available now on Foldit which is playable on PC and Mac.
According to the description of the coronavirus puzzle created by the Seattle researchers, “coronaviruses display a ‘spike’ protein on their surface, which binds tightly to a receptor protein found on the surface of human cells. In recent weeks, researchers have determined the structure 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 could be used to block the interaction with human cells and halt infection!”
With the COVID-19 virus puzzle being available for Foldit gamers, anyone with a PC can learn more about the virus by interacting with it. It’ll be interesting to see what other games are used in similar ways to help researchers combat the virus, with Minecraft capable of creating three-dimensional objects with protein-like blocks and Dreams featuring an extensive creation engine that’s seemingly endless. Researchers have previously used World of Warcraft to understand the speed of infection in populated areas, with an in-game virus known as Corrupted Blood reeking havoc on early adopters of the MMORPG.
Will you be learning more about coronavirus by playing Foldit? What game do you think researchers could use to help combat the bug that sparked a pandemic? Let us know in the comments below!