Foldit, the game that seeks to combat the coronavirus

The expansion of COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus has been developed at a pace so fast that has attracted attention to cross level within our society.

Within this context convulsed, a game that comes from the hand of a research team at the University of Washington in Seattle has the challenge to find a cure to stop its expansion and thus prevent a pandemic of global reach.

The game in question is not worth a narrative fiction, ms well has behind him a powerful scientific purpose. This is Foldit, an initiative that emerged in 2008 at the UW, which, based on the fact that the proteins are involved in many diseases, seeks by means of their deployment to understand their functioning, in order to compile the experience farmacolgicas necessary to design strategies with the greatest potential for success.

Graphical representation of COVID-19

The structure of coronavirus Wuhan contemplates the presence of a pin protena in its surface layer. High potential contagion because such protena naturally binds strongly with another, which is part of the surface area of ​​human cells. The challenge to combat COVID-19 is to find a protein that adheres to the pin protena to neutralize their effect as contacting with human cells and curb contagion as massive.

The research model that is behind this game was initially planted to collaborate in the search for cures for HIV / AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's. aadi coronavirus recently, given its similarity to the above conditions in what regards its relationship with the proteins.

If you are not very close to the sciences and some concepts such as amino acids or hydrophobes are totally foreign to you, the game has introductory puzzles, intended to present the basic notions and tools necessary to start working with the major challenges of Foldit .

(…) know the structure of a protein it is key to understanding how it works and attack it with drugs. A small protena may consist of 100 amino acids, while some human proteins can be huge (1000 amino acids). The number of different ways that even a protein can fold is astronomical small because there are many degrees of freedom. Find out which of the many possible structures is the best is considered one of the most difciles problems of biology today and current methods da require a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of human intuitions to solve puzzles and making people play competitively to fold the best proteins.

More complex instances of the game are those that focus on real challenges, oriented sealadas conditions earlier. The challenge, according to the sealado by the same responsible for the game on its website, is to predict the structure of a protein depending on their sequence of amino acids, always in the framework of sealado.

Should you get a significant finding, the idea is to make use of that experience for computers dedicated to running automated these investigations refine their methods.

To date, more than a dozen scientific articles dedicated to Foldit published since 2010, gathered Button Highlights of this initiative in terms of its methodology, as also as some results.

Foldit has a set of instructions for educators, presented in order to support the work of those teachers who want to use this game on a saln class educational purposes.

Along with being a good opportunity to acquire more scientific knowledge through a playful dynamic, either by skill or mere luck, this game could find the much-loved cure for COVID-19 today, thanks to a transversal, collective and hand of a common citizen like any of us, probably outside a laboratory.

Foldit is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux in beta. You can access and download more information on the game and its scientific purpose on its website.