19 Sep '11, 12am

Achievement unlocked: Online gamers take 3 weeks to crack enzyme of Aids-like virus that thwarted scientists for years

PARIS (AFP) - 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 is 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. 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 3-D picture that 'unfolds' the molecule a...

Full article: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/TechandScience/S...

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