Posted on Mar 12, 2020, 6 p.m.
A University of Washington coronavirus puzzle game has been designed which is aiming to crowdsource a cure in a novel approach to combat the spread of COVID-19 globally.
Their puzzle game challenges scientists as well as students and the public alike to build a protein that can block the virus from infiltrating human cells. This puzzle game is on Foldit, which is a 12 year old website created by the university’s Center for Game Science that was designed to crowdsource contributions to important protein research from over 200,000 registered players.
According to the University the most promising ideas that are generated from the game will be tested and possibly be manufactured by UW’s Institute for Protein Design in Seattle.
COVID-19 is short for Coronavirus disease 2019, and it is spreading around the globe infecting thousands of people and accumulating an increasing death toll as it moves. The title of coronavirus is not limited to this single virus rather a class of viruses that includes the common cold as well as SARS that have crown shaped spikes of protein on top. However, the symptoms of COVID-19 are on a level far more serious than what is seen in cold sufferers.
Coronaviruses spread when the spike of proteins on their surface bind tightly to receptor proteins found on human cells, when this occurs the virus can infect human cells and replicate. 90% of the cases thus far appear to be confirmed in China according to a tracker created by Johns Hopkins University, although an increasing amount of cases are emerging in Europe and America.
“In recent weeks, researchers have determined the structure of the 2019 coronavirus spike protein and how it binds to human receptors,” according to the puzzle description. “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 infection!”
To assist in containment efforts even the tech world is taking serious precautions to avoid further spread of the deadly virus as such the giants Google and Amazon are restricting employee travel; and big tech conferences including Facebook’s F8, the Mobile World Congress, and the Game Developers Conference have either been cancelled or postponed.
So for any that would like to contact or take a shot at playing the game and finding a cure the next time it is opened please feel free to click here and watch for the opening on Foldit to help design an antiviral protein against COVID-19, and good luck to you all.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.