• Gamers solve decade-long mystery
    Gamers have succeeded in three weeks where scientists failed for years

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Gamers solve decade-long mystery

Sep 19 2011

A group of online gamers have succeeded where teams of dedicated scientists have failed.

Research, undertaken by the University of Washington and published by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, revealed that gamers were capable of solving the structure of a retrovirus enzyme, despite the configuration baffling scientists for over a decade.

Furthermore, the gamers achieved the feat in just three weeks.

The gamers made the discovery playing Foldit, an online game that allows players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules, this time creating an accurate model for the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus.

"We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed," said Dr Firas Khatib of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry.
The structure was detailed enough for the scientists to identify molecules which stood out as targets for drug treatment in order to deactivate the enzyme.

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