The power of play

Half Life. Halo. Bejewled. Mystery Case Files. These grown in Washington games are big names in the gaming world. Now, foldit is joining the ranks of companies that have tapped the power of play within game technology to solve major issues in health sciences, education, and security.

Developed by University of Washington researchers, foldit players recently helped solve a key problem that had stumped AIDS researchers for over a decade: how to configure the structure of a retrovirus related to AIDS. The retrovirus plays a major role in how the AIDS virus multiplies.  Now that researchers know what the retrovirus looks like, there is hope that this can provide new insights for the design of therapies that can block it.

Foldit is the brainchild of researchers at the University of Washington Center for Game Science, along with the Baker Laboratory. The game allows users to work together and compete to predict the folds of unsolved proteins and design new proteins to cure diseases.

Foldit is one example of how our strong regional clusters are building off of another to innovate and solve problems – whether it’s solving puzzles to teleport your way out of a menacing chamber (Portal), or serious questions in the health sciences.

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