Posted: September 19, 2011 by Wildcat in Uncategorized

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade. The exploit was published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where – exceptionally in scientific publishing – both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors. Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV. Advertisement: Story continues below Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them. But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3D picture that “unfolds” the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs. (via Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle)

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