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Could Video Gamers Help Scientists Unlock HIV’s Secrets?

Researchers at the University of Washington needed help understanding the structure of M-PMV the protease retrovirus protein that helps HIV multiply. So they challenged gamers to build an accurate three-dimensional model of the protein using Foldit, a multi-player game the university developed where players work together to construct the complex folding structures of proteins. In three weeks, the gamers created an accurate model of M-PMV—something that had stumped researchers for years—helping pave the way towards future breakthroughs in HIV research and medication. And your mom told you video games would only ruin your eyesight.

Via PC Mag

On:           Sep 19, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
    • eddie

      now THAT is awesome!

      Sep 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GayGOP

      This is the sort of use for technology that we need more of!

      Sep 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JohJoh

      This honestly made my day ^^

      Sep 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • steve

      I dunno

      This kinda makes the researches seem a bit dumb if college gamers can come up with answers in 3 weeks which the professionals couldn’t for years..

      Sep 20, 2011 at 1:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B

      o. 4 · steve wrote, “I dunno This kinda makes the researches seem a bit dumb if college gamers can come up with answers in 3 weeks which the professionals couldn’t for years..”

      Not really – the Foldit program must have constrained the possible options and displayed the results graphically. It’s computationally expensive. There was a previous use of home computers – http:[email protected] has the details – where the idea was to farm out the work to a very large number of PCs.

      Instead of letting the computer work completely on its own, Foldit seems to let the “gamers” provide input into what the program tries. They then share their best results so that people don’t get stuck and can work together. What you have is a lot of people trying things and a lot of PCs providing a huge amount of processing.

      There aren’t good algorithms for some things that people do well, spacial tasks in 3 dimensions in this case, and Foldit apparently attempts to exploit that.

      There are a whole series of similar approaches to other problems – details at
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_with_a_purpose .

      Sep 20, 2011 at 3:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      HIV does not cause AIDS. If it did, it would have wiped out the human race millions of years ago.

      Sep 20, 2011 at 9:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • shannon

      This is great! Putting technology to work…I hope they fins a cure soon…..I do

      Sep 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Irritated


      Have you read about the history of HIV? It’s only been around for about 35 years, let alone millions.

      That’s also a fairly stupid argument to make anyway as there are literally hundreds of deadly diseases that have been around for centuries at least and yet humans have managed to continue to survive.

      Sep 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B

      No. 8 · Irritated wrote, “@jason: Have you read about the history of HIV? It’s only been around for about 35 years, let alone millions.”

      Certainly not millions (Jason is out to lunch on this), but longer than 35 years. The earliest documented case was in 1959 (verified decades later, of course): try http://uhavax.hartford.edu/bugl/rise.htm , and for suspected but not verified cases, the earliest is from 1934. These much-earlier cases could not be verified due to an absence of tissue or blood samples.

      Other evidence suggests that a similar virus seen in chimps mutated to HIV around 1930 ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5012268.stm ).

      Also check out http://africanhistory.about.com/od/scienceandmedicine/a/AIDS-Origin.htm

      Sep 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      If you wish to continue to play the gay pity card in relation to HIV, go right ahead. I’m not playing your game. Like attempts to link viruses to repetitive strain injury (RSI) and chronic fatigue syndrome, the HIV-causes-AIDS notion is a fraud that is finally being exposed to the world. People like myself are exposing this fraud along with the gay pity paradigm that sprung up along with it.

      Face it – you do not catch illnesses because of your sexual orientation. No virus or bacteria will attack you because of your sexual orientation. However, if you go fucking anything that moves, expect to pay the price for your licentiousness.

      Stop hiding behind the gay banner as you seek to protect your promiscuity rights.

      Sep 21, 2011 at 8:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Carl

      @jason: Umm, Jason, who here has claimed that HIV/AIDS is a “gay disease” and who is playing the “gay pity card”? Oh, that’s right, NO ONE. HIV/AIDS (and if you genuinely believe that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS you are even more delusional than your comments suggest) is a human disease that anyone who engages in risky sexual behaviour (along with other means of infection) is at risk of. However, it does affect a disproportionate percentage of gay men (and the reasons for that are a whole other discussion), so of course news outlets focusing towards the gay community are going to cover news relating to HIV/AIDS, as the subject is relevant to any gay or bisexual man. You don’t even have to be promiscuous to be at risk – if you enter a relationship and your partner is unaware of his status then, despite your perceived safety you can still be at risk. Your post reeks of ignorance, get some facts before commenting.

      Sep 21, 2011 at 9:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason


      No, AIDS doesn’t affect a disproportionate number of gay men. For one thing, nobody knows how many gay men there exist in our society. The social stigma against male-male sexuality means that it is sheer folly to cite proportions. This is an important point because proportions can be hugely altered by small fluctuations in the denominator of the fraction.

      Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the expression “gay men” needs to be clarified. Do you mean promiscuous gay men? If so, I agree that AIDS or any other illness with a sexual transmission route will affect them disproportionately as compared with non-promiscuous gay men.

      Please let’s be clear here: using the expression “gay men” is misleading and a vast generalization. It fails to distinguish between those of us who choose to lead responsible lives and those who fuck anything that moves.

      Sep 21, 2011 at 9:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TS


      What a cook, is there a banhammer on this site?

      Sep 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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