Most games are played for pure enjoyment, or to lose yourself in a mindless morass on the floor, but there can be a serious side to games – or perhaps more accurately called challenges. In this case gamers have done something that has thwarted scientist thus far. They have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus. Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.
Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them. To help in that quest, the University of Washington created a game that allows people to unfold chains of amino acids, a task necessary to show potential targets for drugs.
It took gamers just three weeks to produce an accurate model for the enzyme. Firas Khatib of the university's biochemistry lab said in a press release "The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."
Now that is the sort of game that I could support, and if we can do that, why cannot we not create video games that kids want to play, but at the same time help them learn.
Brian Bailey – keeping you covered
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