Foldit, a game created by University of Washington researchers to use the creativity of gamers to solve scientific problems, now lets you create a vaccine for COVID-19 by folding proteins.
“Coronavirus Spike Protein Binder Design” is a new puzzle released by the developers of Foldit. It allows users to create an antiviral protein to neutralize Coronavirus’s spike protein.
According to the puzzle’s description, Coronavirus has a “spike” protein on their surface, which “binds tightly to a receptor protein found on the surface of human cells. Once the coronavirus spike binds to the human receptor, the virus can infect the human cell and replicate. If we can design a protein that binds to this coronavirus spike protein, it could be used to block the interaction with human cells and halt the infection.”
Now, you can create an antiviral protein to block the recognition and infection from coronavirus spike protein by playing the free-to-download Foldit game. After downloading the game, you have to sign up, and then you’re presented with a bunch of tutorials to learn the basics of the game.
The Foldit puzzle has two difficulty levels. In the beginner puzzle, a player can refold an existing protein that binds Coronavirus. On the other hand, the advanced puzzle is more difficult as the players have to design a new protein from scratch.
If, somehow, you come up with a promising protein design, then it will go up for testing at the University of Washington’s Insititute for Protein Design.
The designs will be tested for safety, and that will take time. So, if you’re a gamer and love brainstorming, then you should start playing this game right now.