Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Computer Game Attacks Coronavirus

PostedMarch 13, 2020

Lede: If you want to help researchers fighting the coronavirus, even while you’re hunkering down at home, we’ve got a video game for you!

Randy Atkins: The online computer game called Foldit is free for anyone to play and actually helps researchers working to design drugs for patients infected with the new coronavirus. Brian Koepnick, a University of Washington biochemist, says players fold computer versions of a protein into shapes that might attack a part of the virus that allows it to infect human cells.

Brian Koepnick: Foldit players will come up with wildly different approaches and a lot of times that can lead us to ideas that we would not have thought of before.

Randy Atkins: The game scores a player’s creation using sophisticated chemical modeling calculations.

Brian Koepnick: Higher scoring protein models stand a better chance of binding to the coronavirus target.

Randy Atkins: And are show on a scoreboard in real time. Promising designs will be made and tested against real targets from the virus in Koepnick’s lab. But he cautions that this critical step is just the first in long process of drug development. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News