Innovations That Matter

The current COVID-19 puzzle | Photo source Foldit

Puzzle fans help scientists crowdsource coronavirus treatment

Science

The online game requires players to fold proteins in order to find the most stable configuration for medical use

Spotted: Foldit is an online puzzle platform that uses games to help scientists create new medicine. Created by the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science, Foldit is marketed for everyone to play, whether or not they have a scientific background. Players download the game, register a username and put themselves in the running to create a medicine which makes a difference to the lives of millions of people.   

Free to play, Foldit is a non-profit idea. The current COVID-19 puzzles ask players to design a new protein that fits the spiky shape of the virus. This allows the protein to block the virus from attaching to cells and thus infecting someone. All Grand Challenge Science Puzzles are set by the university’s Institute for Protein Design and are open for a set period of time. The most promising protein designs are lab tested, and anyone involved in helping create a medical solution is credited appropriately. Several players were named in a recent scientific publication about another area of work.

Gaming has been used a lot in education and is becoming more popular as a method for training and engaging different groups of people. Springwise has spotted a new treatment for neurological injuries that uses online gaming, and in Chicago, a trash-collecting robot controlled by online gamers has proved so popular that another version is being developed.

Explore more: Science Innovations | Computing & Tech Innovations

Email: cgs-feedback@cs.washington.edu

Website: fold.it

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