Scientists Use Online Game to Research COVID-19 Treatment

Emma Yasinski in The Scientist:

Researchers are calling on citizen scientists to play a free online game called Foldit, in which they help design and identify proteins that may be able to bind to and neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that it uses to invade host cells. The scientists hope that players’ creations will yield insights that will allow them to create an effective antiviral therapy for COVID-19. Other researchers are asking citizens for help in a more passive way. The Scientist spoke with Brian Koepnick, who works on Foldit at the University of Washington Institute for Protein Design, about this project.

The Scientist: What is Foldit? How does it work?

Brian Koepnick: Foldit is a free, online game that anyone in the world can download and run on their Mac, Linux, or Windows PC. The main drive of Foldit is our science puzzles. These are weekly challenges that we refresh every week . . . that are directly related to research we’re doing here in the lab at the Institute for Protein Design or in our other labs. Foldit players can participate in the science puzzles. . .  [which] are constructed in such a way that competing players who develop high-scoring solutions make meaningful research contributions.

More here.