Players of the online game Foldit have helped determine the structure of an enzyme, which could be crucial to stopping the spread of AIDS
It was a puzzle that had thwarted scientists for almost a decade, but a collection of gamers was able to solve it in just three weeks. What the scientists wanted to know was the structure of retroviral proteases, a class of enzymes that play a key part in the maturation and proliferation of the AIDS virus. The mystery was crowd-sourced to the gaming community within an existing online game known as Foldit, by researchers from the University of Washington. The game challenges players to collaborate and compete in predicting the structure of protein molecules.