Video Gamers Using Skills to Help Fight HIV

Online gamers have used their gaming skills in a very unusual and helpful way.  Scientists found that gamers were able to figure out the structure of an important protein that may help to develop drugs to block HIV retroviruses. 

A video game called Foldit, developed by the University of Washington in 2008, is a game that has been used by gamers in a competition to see if they could unfold chains of amino acids through the use of online tools associated with this game. 

Scientists were amazed to see that the gamers were able to develop a model of an important enzyme in 3 weeks.  This can provide important insight into design for antiretroviral drugs and help in the fight against the HIV virus.

According to “It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.  One of Foldit’s creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed. People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at.”