There are many ways to support scientific research at a global level, especially in times of international epidemics, as is the case now with the COVID-19 coronavirus. One of them, according to Stanford University, is to install on your PC or smartphone the game created by the Folding@home research team, which is currently dealing with the virus originally started in China and has spread almost all over the planet.
This video game is called Foldit and follows the logic of a classic puzzle game, having a much more serious scientific background. It was created at the Science and Biochemistry Department of the University of Washington and is based on the process of protein folding in certain diseases.
But before anything else is mentioned, let’s see what exactly protein folding is. Proteins are basically structurally complex bio-molecules, which are composed of amino acids and play an important role in almost all biological processes.
Each protein chain synthesized must follow a specific way of folding that will lead it to the ideal -and unique– structure. If the proteins are not folded correctly, they may form surfaces that are suitable for an abnormal connection to other bio-molecules and agglomerates that are highly toxic to the body. These aggregates are a common feature of many diseases, mainly neurodegenerative.
Foldit does just that: It is a simulation in which the user must prevent the virus from “invading”. All the details needed to participate in the game are available on its website, and the interesting thing is that players can “design” proteins that, in theory, always have all the necessary tools to prevent the transmission of coronavirus to human organism.
The most interesting results of the game will be tested in real life, at the Institute for Protein Design laboratory in Seattle.