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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Gamers Win
Hugh Bollinger

Gamers Win

   Viral protein modeled by Fold.it (credit: University of Washington)

Online gamers are often labeled, slackers.

Gamers are portrayed spending hours playing video-games like Dungeons & Dragons where they blast, blow up, or otherwise destroy everything in sight. That low-life image may need a make-over. Invented at the University of Washington in Seattle, an interactive group of gamers has now solved a molecular biology puzzle. They deciphering the structure of a virus that had stymied lab scientists for years. The consequences may include the development of vaccines for a wide range of diseases including COVID19.

The gamers used a collaborative, puzzle solving technology, Fold.it, to construct 3D protein folding structures. Previously, such research required super-computers to create a functional model.  Fold.it is an interactive game where the players are divided into teams who compete for chains of amino acids to build a protein. The players produced an accurate model of the test virus in three weeks. Their achievement was published by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology and the authors suggest Fold.it could have broad applications to other areas of science. The novel coronavirus COVID19 is now be modeled using Fold.it which will help determine therapies or a vaccine.

Maybe playing in those creepy dungeons offered some benefits after all.

WHB

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