The online game Foldit, allows players to fiddle at folding proteins on their home computers in search of the best-scoring (lowest-energy) configurations.
The game has extended from what was just donating processing power to crunch numbers and mathematically generate structures to actually giving it a go themselves.
I worked for two years to make these enzymes better and I couldn’t do it – Justin Segal a post-doctoral biophysics researcher.
The game has 240,000 registered players, 2,200 of whom were active last week.
n one puzzle, the researchers asked users to remodel one of four amino-acid loops on the enzyme to increase contact with the reactants. In another puzzle, players were asked for a design that would stabilize the new loop. The researchers got back nearly 70,000 designs for the first puzzle and 110,000 for the second, then synthesized a number of test enzymes based on the best designs, ultimately resulting in the final, 18-fold-more-active enzyme.
The ability to crowd source such things allow for the competitive aspect of the leaderboard system and truly call in on humans intuition or maybe even luck at generating the best proteins possible.
Whilst there is no application for this protein it’s a good sign that us gamer’s out there and the ability to create games like this could yield scientific breakthroughs.
Maybe something that could be utilised on an android tablet ?
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