comscore This free-to-play game could help create a vaccine for coronavirus
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This free-to-play game could help create a vaccine for coronavirus

A group of researchers from Washington may have figured out a way to create a vaccine using a videogame called Foldit.

  • Published: March 20, 2020 4:03 PM IST
Foldit game vaccine coronavirus

Right now amidst the crisis in the world, there is no effectively proven vaccine for the coronavirus. The Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic has spread to over 50 countries worldwide. And now a group of researchers from Washington may have figured out a way to create a vaccine using a videogame. The game is called Foldit and it has been developed by researchers from the University of Washington. The game essentially has its players solve complex puzzles by folding protein chains. These create new structures that exhibit different functions.

The game Foldit was first released in 2008, when the researchers wanted to look for a cure for HIV/AIDs or Alzheimers. The game was constructed as such because both these diseases are based on proteins. And earlier this month, the researchers added a new protein puzzle that is based on the structure of the coronavirus. They hope that many players may join in and find a cure for this virus causing an epidemic.

The game works in a complicated manner, but the researchers made sure to develop it in an easy manner. This is to ensure that players don’t have too hard a time understanding the game. The objective of the game is for the players to manipulate the protein chains into different shapes. These different shapes define how that protein works. The Foldit community already has around 200,000 players, and the researchers request to collaborate with one another and not compete.

“Coronaviruses display a ‘spike’ protein on their surface, which binds tightly to a receptor protein found on the surface of human cells,” explains the new coronavirus puzzle description. “Once the coronavirus spike binds to the human receptor, the virus can infect the human cell and replicate. 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!”

In the video about the new puzzle one of the devs explain that the new puzzle has two difficulty mode. And those who create proteins that show the most promise will have their designs manufactured as the vaccine. Of course this would only be after extensive testing and trial, but it is still a solid way to made a real world impact.

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  • Published Date: March 20, 2020 4:03 PM IST