There’s little doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing a massive disruption to the world economy and supply chains everywhere.
But beyond that, a lot of people are getting sick and dying from the disease all over the world, particular at its epicenter in Wuhan, China. This fact makes a vaccine or cure something that researchers are furiously working on right now.
And it looks like they’re going to get a little bit of help from the world of video games.
Created by the University of Washington in Seattle, Foldit allows students to study protein structures. Eurogamer quotes one of the game’s updates which reads in part:
“Coronaviruses display a ‘spike’ protein on their surface, which binds tightly to a receptor protein found on the surface of human cells. In recent weeks, researchers have determined the structure of the 2019 coronavirus spike protein and how it binds to human receptors. If we can design a protein that binds to this coronavirus spike protein, it could be used to block the interaction with human cells and halt infection!”Eurogamer
This isn’t a novel approach. Gamers long in the tooth might remember the PlayStation 3 doing something similar way back when with Folding@home. Foldit is similar and basically farms out work to other people that is often done by computers. As Kotaku notes, humans often do as good or better at this job than their AI counterparts and hence why games like Foldit make sense.
Presented in a puzzle format, the game is about understanding the structures of a disease and how it interacts with the human body so that researchers can make medicine that works along those lines.
What do you think? Does Foldit sound like something you would play? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below if you like.
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