For almost a decade, scientists have been trying to determine the structure of an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. If they could determine the structure of the virus, they speculated they could design a drug to stop it. But the problem proved very difficult, even for the most advanced supercomputers. Then came Fold.it, an online game that harnesses the power of crowd sourcing and human putzing to solve the mysteries of protein structure. Researchers turned the problem over to the gamers — and they solved it in just ten days.
The findings were published this past Sunday, and in an unprecedented move, both gamers and researchers are honored as co-authors.
Firas Khatib, a researcher at the University of Washington's biochemistry lab, and with Seth Cooper, a University of Washington computer scientist who designed and developed Fold.it.