Anyone with internet access and puzzle-solving skills can do their bit to create a cure for the Covid-19 coronavirus. To do this, you need to join the Foldit community and take part in an online game from the University of Washington, which is designed to find solutions through crowdsourcing. As the practice of past years has shown, when solving non-trivial problems, thousands of inquisitive minds work better than supercomputers.
The main weapon of Covid-19 is protein "spikes" on its surface, which can cling to proteins on living cells. This is a kind of boarding tool, with the help of which the virus not only attaches to the cell, but also penetrates it. But it is not at all universal and it can be rendered harmless, confused and neutralized if it is confronted with a protein of a suitable structure. Challenge: to develop this structure and synthesize the required protein.
If there are no special problems with synthesis, at the Institute of Protein Design in Seattle they are ready to start creating promising samples even now, then with the search for architecture there is a big problem. Relatively speaking, there are an infinite number of variations in the structure of proteins, on which their behavior depends, which gives rise to an outrageous number of options for weapons against the virus. Foldit allows you to create and test the effectiveness of virtual models of these proteins, and the task of gamers is to find the best and most effective options.
For those who love puzzles, but do not understand virology, all the nuances are explained in detail on the game's website. In 2010, 57, 000 project participants for the first time surpassed a supercomputer in terms of the efficiency of finding a solution. In 2011, in just 10 days, the crystal structure of a protein enzyme in the Mason-Pfizer virus, similar to HIV, was revealed. The authors of the project hope that together the inhabitants of the planet will be able to cope with the coronavirus.