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Play Foldit To Help Design New Drugs That Combat COVID-19

Image Credit: Foldit
Using a free computer game called Foldit, researchers are enlisting the help of citizen scientists to design drugs that could stop the novel coronavirus from infecting human cells. 

Help researchers discover new antiviral drugs 

One of the most important challenges in biology is identifying the fold of every protein. It's time-consuming and expensive. Knowing the structure of a protein is key to understanding how it works and to targeting it with drugs. A small protein can consist of 100 amino acids, while some human proteins can be huge (1000 amino acids). The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest challenges in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers.

Foldit is a revolutionary crowdsourcing computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans' puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins. Since proteins are part of so many diseases, they can also be part of the cure. Players can design brand new proteins that could help prevent or treat important diseases.

Foldit is encouraging people to start playing the game as they believe that this will speed up the process of finding a cure for the novel coronavirus. After downloading and running Foldit for Windows, Mac or Linux at, players may select Science Puzzles, and subsequently the Coronavirus active puzzles. 

Image Credit: Foldit
Recently Closed Round
The Foldit portal has recently kicked off a new challenge in the fight against coronavirus: design a protein that might help keep a person's immune system under control.

After the first three rounds of the Coronavirus Binder Design Challenge, the Foldit team selected 99 of the most promising Foldit player solutions for experimental testing!

Once a Foldit puzzle closes, the team runs some further analysis to figure out which designs are the most likely to fold and bind to the target. To select promising designs, they consider Foldit score in addition to metrics that correlate with proper folding and others that correlate with binding.

They have combined those metrics to choose 33 designs from each of rounds one, two, and three of the Coronavirus Binder Design Challenge. In total, 99 Foldit binder designs will be tested at the UW Institute for Protein Design, with the same experiments that have already begun for computationally designed binders.

Image Credit: Foldit