Finding a cure against corona is not a game… or is it?

April 2020 Corona Willem van Altena

Gaming is no longer child’s play but serious business. Washington State University even has its own Center for Game Science, where a gaming platform has been constructed that could even help lead the way towards the discovery of a drug that can beat the corona virus.

The gaming platform is called Foldit, and it has been designed by scientists to enlist the input of gameplayers into finding new medicines. In the specially designed games, players are challenged to fold proteins in order to come up with the most stable configuration for medical use. These games can be played by anyone, medical knowledge is not required. It really is as simple as download, register and play.

Spiny shape

The Corona Virus Binding Challenge, as the game is officially called, is initiated and coordinated by the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) of Washington State University, and they also collect and process the data. In the game in question, players have to design a protein that is able to fit over the spiny shape of the corona virus, thus disabling the ability of the virus to latch on to healthy cells and infect people.

Eternal glory

There are no prizes to be won for the players, but the most promising entries are selected to be created in a laboratory and tested on the virus. So far, 99 candidate proteins have been selected that are now being fast-tracked to be tested on their virus-blocking ability. Should one of these prove to be successful, the player who designed it can look forward to having his or her name listed in a publication, as well as eternal scientific glory.

Further information

Visit the Foldit website and play along.

Watch a video that explains the process in detail.