Gamers help University of Washington scientists, solve decade-long simian AIDS protein folding mystery

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Utilizing results from the protein-manipulating "game" Foldit, scientists at the University of Washington were able to attain a successful model of the AIDS-causing monkey virus retroviral protease. For over a decade, researchers have not been able to determine the 3D protein structure of this AIDS protein. Now, in what they're calling a possible first, gamers were able to do what scientific brains and algorithms could not, creating a sufficient protein model.

Typically, people who play video games are very intelligent and enjoy being challenged. I am not against video games, similar to how I am not against alcohol or casinos. However, I am an advocate for responsible use of technology and reasonable video game usage. Unfortunately, similar to alcoholics and addictive gamblers, there are people who cannot control their playtime with video games. Children and adults are hooked on video games, social media, and Internet games without realizing the dangers to their health, lives, and futures. There are some extremely good uses for video games. Video games used appropriately, for example, can help with educating kids, can improve hand-eye coordination, and can be used to train pilots to fly planes. The Nature video below provides an example where technology and video games can be used to advance science.

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