Gamers solve intricate protease puzzle in weeks

If you're one of those people who think all online video games are a complete waste of time, you may revise your opinion after reading Ryan McBride's piece in FierceBiotechIT. Players of the online science game Foldit have pieced together the structure of an enzyme that could provide new targets for AIDS treatments, doing in three weeks what scientists failed to accomplish in more than 10 years. The retroviral protease is a scissor-like enzyme that helps keep the AIDS virus going. Blocking the enzyme's activity is a goal of drug researchers, but they first need to know the structure of the enzyme. Firas Khatib, a researcher at the University of Washington, where Foldit originated, gave players of the online game the challenge of cracking the structure of the protease that scientists had puzzled over for more than a decade. The players came up with multiple structures of the enzyme in an astonishing three weeks, giving Khatib and his colleagues enough information to revise the gamers' work. Story