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SSS 2011-09-22

时间:2011-10-07 06:21来源:互联网 提供网友:gmeng   字体: [ ]
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 This is Scientific American's 60-Second Science. I'm Cynthia Graber. This will just take a minute.

 
Scientists can now include online gaming in their problem-solving arsenal. Because game players seem to have provided an answer to a scientific question that's vexed researchers for a decade.
 
Scientists wanted to know the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme produced by a retrovirus similar to HIV. They haven't been able to solve the protein structure using standard computational methods.
 
Now, the game—researchers developed Foldit in 2008. Teams of players fold molecules and rotate amino acids to create 3-D protein structures. Gamers get points for structure stability.
 
So researchers asked gamers to try to solve this particular protein. Within three weeks, the gamers found a good solution. The scientists then refined it and were able to completely determine the protein's structure. Having the structure could inform the use of drugs to block the enzyme, and provide another tool against retroviruses, including HIV.
 
The researchers say that people have better spatial reasoning skills than computers—and that having both humans and machines attack the problem might overcome various structural challenges. The results appear in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.Co-authored by researchers—and a number of gamers.
 
Thanks for the minute. For Scientific American's 60-Second Science, I'm Cynthia Graber.
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