Scientists from the University of Washington have been struggling for the past decade to decipher the complex structure of an enzyme that exhibits  behavior similar to that of an enzyme key in the development of AIDS from an HIV infection, and which might hold a critical role in building a cure for the disease. Gamers playing spatial game Foldit have managed to collectively determine the enzyme’s structure in ten days.

Puzzled by the intricate structure of the M-PMV retroviral protein, an enzyme that plays a key role in the development of a virus similar to HIV, scientists have striven to find its chemical key for ten years now. Each enzyme has millions of possible combination in which it can fold its atom bonds, and determining its precise structure is a very laborious enterprise even for high-end computers with large processing power.

Ingame screenshot of the Foldit interface.

Ingame screenshot of the Foldit interface.

As a long-shot University of Washington biologists sent the virtual 3D model of the M-PMV to the online game Foldit, where gamers folded and turned it into a myriad of combinations. Eventually, and remarkably enough, the gamers obtained the optimum one – the state that needed the lowest energy to maintain.  Now unlocked, scientists have a concrete means of understanding how the enzyme works, and consequently how to attack it.

“This was really kind of a last-ditch effort. Can the Foldit players really solve it?” Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington and the lead author on the recently published research paper told MSNBC. “They actually did it in less than 10 days.”

Foldit is a very simple game, which tackles biology’s biggest issue – folding proteins. To play the game you don’t need any biology background, just your native spatial reasoning skills. Motivation comes in the form of competition, and from this stand point, the game has been more than suitably designed. Basically you get scored for three factors: how well you pack the protein, how efficiently you hide the hydrophobics and how you clear the clashes.  Trust me, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds.

“Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins,” states the game’s website.

“Since proteins are part of so many diseases, they can also be part of the cure.

Protein folding had proved to be one of the more popular uses for distributed computing
“Players can design brand new proteins that could help prevent or treat important diseases.”

The game allows players to chat with each other and collaborate, thus various gamers built up each others work and  collectively managed to crack the code for the most energy efficient enzyme structure – the most important structure to study.

The reason why computers haven’t been able to do this, despite their evidently superior processing capabilities, is that they’re still far from being capable of having human-like spatial reasoning. Interestingly enough, Foldit records the players’ actions and processes them in an algorithm which will eventually help the AI behind the game to someday be able to compile successful structures on its own.

Seth Cooper, a University of Washington computer scientist and lead designer and developer of Foldit, is hoping that more scientists send them problems that fit within the Foldit format.

“The critical role of Foldit players in the solution of the M-PMV [retroviral protease] structure shows the power of online games to channel human intuition and three-dimensional pattern-matching skills to solve challenging scientific problems,” said the study, which was published by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. “Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance that we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.”

Still, the breakthrough is amazing by all means. Next time somebody tells you you’re wasting time playing a video game, you can always show them this article and tell them you’re helping save the world.

Article revised 10/16/2013: 1. In the original draft, “Washington University” was mistakenly written instead of “University of Washington”

 2. Grammar fix

3. Initial paragraph was modified, better reflecting reality. 

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  • Smokercc1

    how long will it take for this advancement to take affect

  • A


  • Ganesh Vasudevan

    This is a great achievement but most predictive modeling based on energy minimization has an accuracy rate of 30% for large molecules like this. I wonder if this structure is more realistic when guided by human intuition…

  • DT

    thank you! for real though!

  • LivedInBothCities

    University of Washington and Washington University? Not the same place. The former is in Seattle, the latter in St. Louis.

  • jarm

    Apparently “spacial” is an accepted spelling:

  • mowens4586

    Because screw your degree. That’s why…

  • Saereniah

    I didn’t see the player’s gamer tags mentioned not a single time in this article. Pretty high and mighty of you guys not to even give them some credit to a medical BREAK THROUGH that could save millions.

  • Saereniah

    And yes I know that it was a double negative…it was placed for emphasis.

  • mowens4586

    If you click on the picture and look in the right upper hand corner it has the names of the top competitors for the group and individual competitions.

    What I find more interesting is that “Mike Crunching for Physics” did better than Rice Biochemistry. At least in terms of score and however many people from Rice Biochemistry participated in this fold.

    Gamers are not dumb. I will say that they are not the most active people. But some of the smartest people I know play games.


    Wow all of this and no credit to the person(s) that solved it in 10 days.

  • Jernau Gurgeh

    “The reason why computers haven’t been able to do this, despite their evidently superior processing capabilities, is that they’re still far from being capable of having human-like spacial reasoning.”

    Really? And where does the human spatial reasoning come from. A massively parallel computer with heuristic learning capability. The thing that struck me about this article was not that the video game players solved this problem much faster than computers, but the evident “surprise” of both the writer and the scientists involved that it was done by people who aren’t biology majors. In other words, don`t these scientists trust their own intuition when it comes to such problems? Of course intuition, does not pass peer review :P

  • Dani Long

    So, that was my line of thinking as well. Will the gamers get any credit? Any cashing in on the IP rights? Any share in the profits from the eventual drugs that could come of this? Cynical, but then again not so much. If there’s value in what they’re doing, then they should be rewarded the same as the scientists and drug companies will be. At least give them credit…

  • Andrew Morin

    Achievement Unlocked : What PH.D?

  • Her0 2 N0one

    This is soooooo old!

  • Taja

    Yes, this.

  • Mapgirl

    This article needs a grammatical editor. Badly.

  • scarshapedstar

    Okay, but the article doesn’t actually say they’re the same place. UW made the software, WashU sent the protein.

    It is admittedly a little confusing though.

  • Gydle

    the lack of actual information in this is formidable, and the quality of the grammar … I guess anything gets published on the interwebs these days. I wrote about this same thing in 2011, here: and mention real people and real science.

  • scarshapedstar

    “A massively parallel computer with heuristic learning capability.”

    It’s harder to make than it sounds. The biggest difference is that the brain, unlike a computer, has storage and processing power at every point. There’s no “hard drive” that has to keep track of what every neuron is connected to. Until we figure the memristor thing out, it’s hard to scale up a neural net to the scope of the brain.

  • MyWordsMyRules

    Yeah, right. Are we talking about the same drug companies that are solely responsible the mess health care is in? Any credited contributor is more likely to be sue for proprietary rights of some other horrible hypothetical situation. Drug companies don’t want to share credit for anything, they don’t even concern themselves with making cures available to anyone they can’t make billions off of.

  • Randy Govostis

    What do you mean? They got on the leaderboard for Foldit. ;)

  • Hawk

    its called humility. plus it took many gamers, not just one. be happy with the fact that the community we are apart of solved along standing problem. we need to do more of this and be humble about it.

  • ahanova

    This was done by University of Washington, not “Washington University”, which does not exist. There is a difference. He did not mean WSU, which could have been implied. Stupid writer!

  • dangster

    Um, Washington University *does* exist. It’s in St. Louis. However, you are correct that there is a big difference between those two schools, and as an University of Washington alumna, this REALLY irks me.

  • Darlene Weathers

    This was also written in 2011, September to be exact. It says so at the top of the article.

  • adamHolland

    I would definately PWN, TROLL, and TK people here. I would certainly steal you PW and sell all your items. I would not respect the game rules, I would camp, cheat, and corner trap….
    Wait is this even a FPS?

  • Martin Walsh

    Yeah, i don’t think “beginner puzzle 8 fruit fly” is the aids protein.

  • Matthew James Ferrantino

    I in fact cannot think of an exercise of a form of intelligence that cannot be called a ‘game’. :) To Be Intelligent IS To Game.

    Speaking of Game, I just Lost it, and now, so, have. you.

  • Anonymous Guy

    Who were the heroes in this story? Don’t they get any credit?

  • TallDave

    spatial, not spacial

  • gydle

    right. So it’s not exactly news. It would be interesting to see if they’ve made any new discoveries since then.

  • Amy Romanek

    Well, the problem did come from a university and there are plenty of PhD researchers who aren’t exactly raking in the big bucks for the drugs they contribute to. So…I doubt it.

  • James Cannon

    So, gamers are actually better than their real world counterparts. Screw you US Government and video game haters! Games are indeed a positive force within our society!

  • JohnnyWalker2K1

    What a horrible attitude :(

  • JohnnyWalker2K1

    There was no one person who cracked the code, as far as I’m aware. It was a group effort.

  • hoosiercub88

    You can’t solely blame big pharma for this mess, it’s their fault but they do not carry that burden alone.

    Anyway, something I’ve always said to be true.. There’s no money in curing something that affects a large population percentage.

  • JohnnyWalker2K1

    Damn. This isn’t news! It was written in 2011!

  • Peter Pan

    On another note, this is the most horribly written article I’ve ever read. These people cured AIDS so I think you can learn English, dude.

  • Juwei Nam

    It also took many scientists. Not just one. Their ten years versus the gamers’ less than ten days. It’s not even humility. Competition? Right? Oh that means some form of boasting. Ha! I beat this part of the game before you! I’m pretty sure the gamers want to be known for beating it as opposed to the money’s worth. Though that will never be considered because those many scientists don’t think gamers deserve the credit. hoo rah.

  • Juwei Nam

    Not the most active people? I met quite a few that were martial artists and what not. It’s the social gamers (as in normal people on facebook games or those really simple games that are not active. Normal people. Hardcore gamers. Pretty damn active.

  • Kent Allen

    If the general public wasnt really aware of it until now, then in my opinion its still news regardless of when it was written. I follow a lot of science articles and publishings, im surprised i never got around to reading this until right now.

  • jcklsldr

    This comment is epic.

  • Sonia

    What, and no one thinks to thank the computers? Feh

  • Marc Clifton

    Good grief, folks. Not having played FoldIt, but I imagine the people that do are interested in having fun and doing something useful for humanity in a completely altruistic manner. No credits, no cashing in on the IP rights, etc. What ever happened to just giving for the sake of giving?

  • Triple Helix Foldit Fan

    I believe you might be confusing two separate schools: University of Washington (in Seattle, WA) is tied to the Foldit project. I don’t think Washington University (in St. Louis, MO) has anything to do with this project.

  • Aaron Miles Davis

    I don’t know who could vote this down… seriously… spot on

  • shritis

    Just opensource the cure that was found with crowd sourcing the solution, and i’m sure they’ll all be happy.

  • Demonick

    They didnt effectively cure AIDS, they just discovered the most common protein within an enzyme that acts like AIDS, so they made a major breakthrough but did not cure it, it may lead to the cure though.

  • Chase Hatch

    Good observation. Somehow I missed this inconsistency in the article. Glad I read the comments!

  • Snoodle

    The people folding are doing it for the good of humanity, not the chance of fame or profit.

  • Damnit. I can’t up AND down vote that!

  • Vincent

    What I always say to be true (pretty much the same thing, only shorter) “No money in healthy people”…

  • Cpt. Obvious

    Wow, genius observation there. Because it wasn’t just a screen cap of the game’s interface as noted by the caption below the photo but was, in fact, supposed to be the puzzle the article is about. How did we all miss this except your brilliant self?

  • Marc

    Software Engineers/Architects such as myself do critical work that save lives every day. I’ve worked in the DoD industry and now in health care. I create software/hardware that saves peoples’ lives every day, but don’t expect any credit.

    Thanks anyway.

  • Chaedrion Knyght

    Despite a hive mind situation people get stuck in a box and it can take someone from out of that box to figure out the situation because for what ever reason they have they can look at it from the new perspective and say that should go here or there and before you know it a billion people solve a problem in a shorter amount of time than just a handful.

  • IP theft

    You still credit the intellectual property owner.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    “real world counterparts”


    “Games are indeed a positive force”

    Agreed! GAMER UNITE!!!!

  • TickedOff

    Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, CHANGE YOUR FONT COLOR ON THIS SITE!!!! Dark blue on top of brown is NOT a good option for reading!

  • MechaVelma

    Jack Thompson is crying himself to sleep now.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    Hello, “TheRedButterfly”.

    “Video games” are a part of SCIENCE, which is ONE of the reasons of why I suppport “video games” along with SCIENCE.

    By the way, I got banned from “Xbox One Daily”.


  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    Yep. :)

  • Larry Swain

    That word is usually spelled “spatial.” “Spacial” is an acceptable variant, but not seen very often.

  • WTFH!

    If this was written in 2011 then why THE hell is it BIG news now… it should have been BIG news then not TWO years later… What the Hell people!

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


    It is NOT solely about “Popularity”, but instead, the impact it has on the “medical science” industry.


  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • WTFH!

    Oh yeah, BTW Gamers Are Awesome people… well most of them anyway… :-) :-P

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    STOP hating on video games and get a life.


  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • Ian Donahue

    Well, the article describes it in a way that makes it seem as though the scientist put the structure in an open forum game in which whoever is playing can contribute and their moves are saved so that others can work on it, therefore multiple people contributed to this “code cracking” at their leisure, it would be difficult and pointless for this article to list every gamer that touched this molecule and helped find its best configuration. If it were only one gamer or a small handful, then I can see them mentioning it, but since it was a collective effort by any peoples playing that game, realistically every one who plays that game and worked on that molecule can be said to have had a hand in the discovery of that molecules optimal confirmation.

  • Replicant2

    Anyway, somebody there has seen the pilot of Stargate Universe …. at least, there the “gamer” has some benefits from it ;-)

  • James P Jr Bettes

    Maybe they can do something about Cardiac amyloidosis. One of my favorite authors Robert Jordan died of it.

  • mcdunn

    Imagine the Gamerscore you get from curing AIDS….

  • PamelaHaley

    This isn’t a medical breakthrough. It’s a breakthrough in showing how easy AIDs is to cure. We’ve had the cure. It just generates more revenue to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  • jeff

    how many aids cures are there now?

  • Zak Taylor


  • Amilia Jones

    I loved him too. I second that!

  • Masterbaker

    Hmmm. Assuming this is a real breakthrough, greedy pharmaceutical corporations will make BIG profits off the cure – And I’ll bet that none of those profits which will be used to lower the cost of the cure (or make it accessible to poor people or developing countries).

    Big pharma doesn’t play nice and certainly isn’t altruistic, why should they get the good stuff for free???


    OH GEE, my bad. I was supposed to go elsewhere to find out. Yeah, you make a lot of sense.

  • James Jimbo Graham

    I’m sorry, what mess? You may be right, but it’s easy to discredit the system with sweeping generalisations. Be specific, what, in particular ails you, and I’ll address that problem.

  • James Jimbo Graham

    Any big business is managed by managers and has only one goal at heart: the accrue of money and power. Big Pharma is no different, but in one respect, they are much more altruistic than some businesses (in this day and age) due to the laws and regulations that have been imposed on them in the last few decades – equivalent regulations to those which are only now being enforced on the banking industry

  • Midgardian

    Color me unsurprised. The most powerful supercomputer can never match the computing power of the weakest human mind.

  • lamorpa

    I’m sure your bitter heart would never do something just for the sake of being helpful, but there may be others who do.

  • lol Fancy meeting you here!

    I was wondering why you all of a sudden vanished from those forums. :/ Guess I know now.

  • @mowens4586:disqus is saying that gamers without a degree did in less than 10 days what science couldn’t do in over 10 years.

  • Scott Glass

    Hey…two proofs… no credit given where credit was/is due and scientists at U of Wash are apparently not just glory hogs, but veritable idiots.

  • Martin Walsh

    erm, the comment that i was replying to specifically implied that the screenshot was of the actual protein… seriously. get fucked dude.

  • Jørn Andreassen

    You have a faulty system. This is why you NEED Obama health care. When everyone stands on equal terms, the drugs will be cheaper. And this is what the tea party is so against!
    (I am norwegian. We have “free” health care, since we pay taxes instead of insurance. Obama wants to replicate our system. For your sake, I hope he gets there.)

  • Joel

    Scientific progress is not about credit, or money. You put it quite well yourself “a medical breakthrough that could save millions.” Trust me, you’ve never heard of the vast majority of people that have made those breakthoughs.
    The credit, the payment, the satisfation of being a part of something like this, is self-evident. You have a disgusting and cancerous attitude towards something that is really quite incredible.

  • bob barbly

    this was established in 2011. and no, none of the gamers got any “credit”

  • C Daggs

    This is AWESOME!! How cool, it gave me some misty eyes

  • Aaron Miles Davis

    I am speaking to Dani’s comment sir… in fact by your comments we are in agreement…

  • Umbers35

    Who needs you to address the problem? Who even asked you to? What kind of expertise do you have in any of this, that people should care what you have to say about it?

  • Stalagmite

    He was being sarcastic, dumbass.

  • FYouMudFlaps

    The Nordic countries truly lead the world. Here’s one U.S. American that admires your part of the world and seeks to implement the Nordic Model here. Keep being awesome.

  • Crowdsourcing problem solving activities is fun. The part that makes me wonder is that their algorithms are designed to learn how people think to solve complex puzzles so that the computers can automate the process of solving such problems without human intervention.

  • migm16

    “be happy with the fact that the community we are apart of solved along standing problem.” ok so um y can this be done with the government?? oh wait we only wanna do things if its on the pc and it set up like a game.

  • Raf

    I guess he’s “big pharamacy”…..

  • Todd Smith

    You mean you read the article? ;)

  • CRaven

    Calling big pharma “altruistic” because it is forced to be is misleading in the same way that calling a criminal’s community service “good will” is misleading. As a Canadian, I would say that Americans need either Obamacare or reduced drug prices. And well, you said yourself that big pharma is interested only in money and power. I agree with Masterbaker.

  • webran

    Credit? don’t need it, don’t want it, knowing is enough.

  • Twain

    Excuse me. Now you work in industry that saves lives. Healthcare. You used to work in industry that takes away lives – DoD.

  • Perry Warren Dela Cruz

    Unfortunately, gamers will get no credit because their call signs were , , and

  • Acaxochitl

    Exactly! If millions of Americans who have Cancer and HIV knew there were cures for their conditions, and I’m talking cures that are pretty easy to get and NOT a drug, there would be alot of doctors and pharmaceutical companies going out of business. Vincent is right: there’s no money in healthy people!

  • I was under the impression that people COULD collaborate with each other, but that it was a voluntary cooperative effort made by individuals as a conscious choice to do so and share work, as the game is based on competition, not collaboration. Kind of like how you can talk to the other guys on your team in COD:MW3 but don’t HAVE to, and the people who play do choose to identify themselves with a particular team of others….. I didn’t read that as meaning it was necessarily sum total of everyone who played the game, or even that anyone could just jump on to the collaboration like a wikipedia edit or something. But I haven’t actually seen the game, so perhaps you are correct., and it is the benefit of the total hive mind that was the key to cracking the code

    At any rate, perhaps there needs be a similar game based on balancing the US budget nonsense too… couldn’t hurt, or be any less effective than congress at it…

  • Acaxochitl

    So true!!

  • Someguy

    Ya know. . . it may work with 5 million.
    But multiply that by 62 and it gets questionable.

  • meowwl

    I’d say the gamers are getting back in a game they find fun, otherwise they would not likely play it.

  • Danielle Bailey

    DoD also saves lives by creating tools and equipment that protect. The mine busting trucks used to clear Africa’s minefields weren’t made by Toyota.

  • Everyone is a scientist!

    I go to the University of Washington and no one here knows what they are talking about. First of all, protein structures are open to the public for use.. The head of this project (who isn’t who is listed in the article!) is not a rich scientist and most of the people in his lab are broke graduate students and post-graduate students who make less than most of you here, even with their PhD. The ‘biologists’ (really biochemist) and the University of Washington did not send this to FoldIt, the biochemistry lab owns it (not the CS department). As for the gamers given credit, why don’t you visit the website for yourself and see how they are absolutely given credit. Or possibly click the link t the academic journal this was published in, most of the articles list the gamer group as coauthors. PS. to whoever said this is a protein inside of an enzyme, this is an enzyme…which is a protein.

  • ChiTownEdge

    Same here! I was surprised I had that reaction. haha

  • MMM
  • Lbelich

    The problem was for a cure not a treatment, little money in curing illness…

  • CrazeeMomma3

    Something positive finally for gamers!

  • solarfly

    My father waited for 12 months in Canada to have a chance at surgery on his shoulder after a nasty dislocation. In the US right now, with my health care, I can get in for surgery in about 2 months at an excellent hospital.

  • Jesse Smith

    This means so many mothers owe so many children an apology for saying gaming doesn’t achieve anything.

  • docmerlin

    Actually, they usually patent the chemicals and make money off of them.

  • Hoang

    And the credit goes to the gamer with the tag [ 8==D~~ ]…..

  • bk

    title is misleading. it should read: Bioinformaticians design a crowd
    sourcing interface that tricks psuedo-random number generators called
    “gamers” into spending their time searching through an unsearchable
    space. Thereby allowing the researchers to do better things with their
    computers and while passively solving important protein structures.
    Yes, I have played fold-it and unless you are a biochemist, it is a
    waste of your time.

  • Zeb

    No IP rights would emerge from this work. Structures of proteins aren’t patentable- if this had been solved in a lab by more traditional means, any patented drug to come from the discovery would cite the original discovery, but not owe them any money. This is a breakthrough, sure, and certainly deserves credit (which is assigned in the form of team names in the paper as major authors) but will not directly lead to financial gain for the authors.

  • Randy Govostis

    Dude, it was a joke.

  • lolreally?

    So what, we get another, “Better” treatment? How much will this one cost? and how often/how long will those suffering have to pay for it before it actually does anything? How much money are pharmaceutical companies expecting to make off this? Will they ever try t find a cure or just new treatments that patients have to pay for?

    Call me cynical but when medical companies put the cure before their profits, then I’ll give two shits about stuff like this.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    I got banned from “Xbox One Daily”.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

    1. The “gamers” can be also SCIENTIFIC.

    2. “Degrees” are useless pieces of paper from the “educational institution”. Only the FACTS and abilities are required to do a SCIENCE project, such as the “HIV puzzle”.

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • You make it seem like it was five guys who solved the problem. Crowdsourcing isn’t conducive to credit. It would default the purpose.

  • Insipid

    Congrats on having money. Dislocations aren’t exactly life threatening ailments and that is why he waited. Free healthcare is a bitch and all with those line-ups but what if you didn’t have the money you use in your example. Bet that wouldn’t be so speedy at that point. The point is…it may take a while here to get help but at least we actually do get help indiscriminately regarding finance.

  • Insipid

    That’s what pointless wars are for.

  • Music for Kids

    You’re right, clearly medical practitioners & researchers have never done anything for anybody but themselves, unlike all those plumbers, electricians, bakers, green-grocers, salesmen who all do their jobs only out of the kindness of their own heart

  • That sucks… And if you’re wondering, bizzy is still as retarded as he always was, and HyperTallih just got back from wherever it was that he was (literally, he got back yesterday)… I wish he would’ve stayed away.

  • MyWordsMyRules

    Oh, I agree, it isn’t all big Pharma, now to the other comment: why must there be money in helping people stay or get healthy? Human obsession with wealth and power is one the human condition’s worst vices.

  • Ales Sandro

    Foldit? I remember that on p3. Ypu cant interact with it. You simply let it go. I dont get this. It uses your machine to compute is all. Millions of machines linked together. You personally can’t do shit.

  • MyWordsMyRules

    It was interesting, but still it was a rant very loosely supported by data untouched by the speaker, and merely after referenced.

  • MyWordsMyRules

    Health care costs, the insurance craze, the overshadowed need to help the people by the opportunity to make a buck. I will give you those to chew on

  • ahanova

    Yeah, I looked it up. However, the writer said that it was a mistake. He corrected it. It was UW. I remember this news long ago. Apparently Fold-It was developed for this very purpose and was released in 2008. I emailed the writer and he corrected it. :)

  • ahanova

    Thanks, Tibi!

  • ReaperMaya

    right. They “used” the gamers to make money. Geez. And take credit of it.

  • irenehoule

    Wrong, condition of employment includes signing over all rights to the university for anything you do while working there. They MIGHT get some small residuals, no more.

  • Johnyradio

    he clearly stated that the single largest reason that the usa pays a lot more than other countries for the same services and drugs, is that our system does not enable us to negotiate for the lowest prices. As a result, medical providers (drugs, devices, hospitals) charge us up the wazoo. Countries in which there’s a single BUYER (ie the government) can more easily bargain for lower costs. But i agree that his rant-style was shy on hard data. Interesting that Texas, where malpractice suits were limited by law, only enjoyed a 0.1% reduction in costs.

  • Computers need someone like Data from Star Trek

  • Adam_Rodriguez

    Let me put it in a way you understand our corrupted corporatism system. If they give them their due credit, then big pharma will say “no way. My POTENTIAL earnings may be at risk. I don’t care if it helps people.” and not bother using the system. Because all it takes is for one of these gamers to realize that they should have a small cut of their hard work.

    This is why they probably force these users to sign non-disclosure agreements and etc.

  • Adam_Rodriguez

    Are you retarded? Obama care doesn’t fix health care. It simply funnels more money to insurance companies. It STILL doesn’t address why you can’t get insurance companies from across state lines. Stop being brainwashed. Nothing the Democrats or Republicans do benefits you naive kiddo.

  • RSJ

    While I agree to giving credit in general, I think we should assess what actually does.

    “Foldit is a revolutionary new computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research.” [Source:

    So, I think it’s more about collaborative effort, not personal glory.

    Also, looks like most of the players prefer anonymity – no pics on profiles and little info. I’m also seeing quite a bit of puzzles being solved by a huge group of people, not just a handful. Pointless to just list put lines of online monikers without knowing who those people are.

    Why not take the positive side of this article instead? It gives publicity to and perhaps garner more interested collaborator players.

  • presentDad

    Thank you for your condescending input on a healthcare system that is not fully implemented yet, which no one in THIS country seems to accurately comprehend, let alone someone from another country. We KNOW our system is broken, thank you. Everyone knows this. My 12-year-old daughter knows this. The argument is (and always has been) how to implement a better system without further bankrupting our country.

    Good Lord, look at me responding to an off-topic post so early in the morning! Yay trolls…

  • David Harmon

    There is a game that emulates congress, it’s called self-governance.

  • David Harmon

    You don’t have free healthcare, and your debt obligations are greying just as the ones in the US are.

  • David Harmon

    Sure it’s not life threatening, but if the point of socialized healthcare is to make it so everyone can afford healthcare so that they can all continue to contribute to the system and work to pay taxes, then him being out of work that long because of a minor surgery is sort of ridiculous and counter productive.

    Not that you would ever admit to that of course…

  • David Harmon

    Unless you run a gym…. I’ve noticed there have been a lot of gyms opening up in the past 5 years, as well as Crossfit becoming extremely popular. Might be time to invest in one of these better examples.

  • David Harmon

    It has to do with something called regional monopolization.

  • David Harmon

    Pretty sure the DoD specializes in taking lives not the other way around. Not that I was in the Army and saw first hand what they do or anything, but wait I did…

  • Cakes

    Most gamers do this kind of stuff for the love of the game and competition rather than expecting any kind of monetary reward.

  • Matt Roach

    Free markets to the rescue on this one! Well done, gamers.

  • knightmeh

    they want to be money grubbers? so be it. I believe in the end, the gamers themselves want to make the world a better place, that is why they put in effort to solve the game

  • kayakyakr

    You’re thinking of folding at home, which is distributed computing. This is a similar concept but with people interacting to produce the results.

  • Ian Donahue

    Haha! I agree, and wouldn’t that be something, if the people of this country could actually balance a budget better than our elected officials?! I know some single income families that could really teach these politicians how to stretch a buck.

  • BenTheGuy

    There’s more than one version of Foldit. Trust me, if you haven’t seen something, that does not mean it does not exist.

    Unless you think all the people mention in this story (and me) are lying?

  • BenTheGuy

    Yeah, better they just do nothing and let people die than actually make a buck off their work.

  • Annette Gatlin Rogers

    Not life threatening, but my mother lost almost all use of one arm thanks to a bad dislocation that wasn’t fixed in time.

  • MyWoodsMyWools

    You have to give SOME credit to device and medical suppliers as well.

  • Alicia

    Actually, as a chemical researcher myself, the researchers don’t really make any money themselves. The pharmaceutical company or university they work for makes the money (after they spend thousands upon millions of dollars testing and optimizing said compound) if they patent their intellectual property. Even then, there is a time limit to the patent. Research groups don’t make a profit, they spend any money donated or earned on further research.

  • pop

    Most scientiests do this kind of research for the love of science and knowledge rather than expecting any kind of monetary reward.

    Those who finally make profits are the pharmaceutical companies, not the scientists. Plus a more important thing to keep in mind is that not all research scientists works for companies. The academic scientists make most of the important breakthroughs, but they have no money because academia is nonprofit. So please don’t assume that it’s scientists who make money but don’t help curing diseases, they don’t deserve the blame.

    pharmaceutical companies are just like many other companies. Can you really say “some snack companies make new products in the goal of improving people’s taste bud experiences or to improve healthy diet?” their ultimate goal is all about money, right? Then why do people blame pharmaceutical companies so hard?

  • lemonfoundation

    HIV-Negative AIDS: Is it CFIDS or AIDS?

    Allied NATO Government is hiding millions of infectious NON HIV AIDS cases (like mine) under the “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)” ICD-code.

    – Dr. Lorraine Day was on Riley’s THE POWER HOUR (9/12): “…HIV-Negative AIDS cases falsely reported and treated as CFS cases may be one of the biggest cover-ups…”

    – In 1992 “…Newsweek made an even more shocking
    announcement: …CFS patients who had the same immune system deficiencies as the NON-HIV AIDS cases…”

    – Dr. Judy Mikovits stated on In Short Order (11/12) about CFS &
    Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME): “…consider this as NON HIV AIDS.”

    Will CFIDS or AIDS ever make any progress unless we acknowledge
    these horrific facts?

    My case goes up through the NIH, CDC, White House, WHO, to the UN. I testified federally in Washington-DC, and am published 18 times on 4 continents

    Or simply google “NON HIV AIDS”

  • Vincent

    Muscle Mass, or lack of body fat, does not regulate total body health.

  • MyWordsMyRules

    Oh, absolutely! These are all aspects of the health care industry, and the health and welfare of the global community being part of an industry is probably why there will always be someone trying to turn a profit from what could easily make them the greatest humanitarian on earth. But like many have said in here, there is no money in a healthy populace, so why care about people? which is why the obsession with money and power overshadows the communal nature of humans

  • Revision 4: Revision 3 was modified so as to be written in English? (You can’t “to better do” something).

  • Dex_A

    “Interestingly enough, Foldit records the players’ actions and processes them in an algorithm which will eventually help the AI behind the game to someday be able to compile successful structures on its own.”

    EHRMAGERD….. Skynet.

  • Kristian Jörgensen

    The thing is, the American system is the most expensive per capita in the world. At the same time, it’s the least effective (regarding the percentage with access to healthcare) in the industrialized world.

    In other words – you would save a lot of money by implementing single payer.

  • Zeev Nukvar

    This is not “gaming” or “gamers”, there’s a huge difference between World of warcraft or Battlefield 3 to puzzle games, it’s not the same audience.

  • andythebouncer

    “Next time somebody tells you you’re wasting time playing a video game, you can always show them this article and tell them you’re helping save the world.”

    As if a large portion of gamers didn’t already act like pwning n00bs or playing their MMORPG was already doing something of grave importance. Let’s limit the scope of who should take credit for making the world a better place to the people actually playing this game.

  • Ryan Taylor

    It’s funny because a lot of people (not saying you) complain about how people playing video games could be making the “world a better place.” I personally think that they’re doing the world a huge favor. What are some of the things they could be doing besides playing games? They could be fishing or hunting, out having more sex, doing drugs, general exploration, joining politics (that could go either way haha), or any number of other things. Many of the possibilities would do the world more harm than good. With all of the people out there I think its good that some are willing to stay inside and consume a product that is mostly created in a fantasy program world. (Although I’m sure if I looked into it, the consumption of heavy metals used in the production of consoles would be a big negative.)

  • Ryan Taylor

    For now.

  • BradleyHart

    The way I was reading it in another article was there might be thousands of individuals involved in the collaborative effort. That sort of precludes listing them in a short article. It would be nice if they get some mention somewhere, but I really don’t want to wade through an article of endless player tags.

  • Raven

    the thing with universal healthcare is that people are dealt with according to need rather than how much money they have… you might get your shoulder seen to within 2 months, but you will be pushing out people with less money who may suffer the consequences of not getting the surgery they need in time – just because you have more money than they do does not mean you are better than others.

  • Lyshira

    Age of the geek baby!

  • GAMING SCIENCE BITCH! This is amazing, and shows how essential gaming is to the Open World that is Life.

  • Zsombor

    Some people don’t need any kind of feed back for their work. Being modest, and know you helped is a reward in it self, just like being Batman

  • And it’ll never happen because the pharmaceutical companies have too much to game. Now how sad is that?

  • Randy Govostis

    It’s called researching a story, it’s how you become better informed on a subject.

  • Leonardo Gjoni

    This is great. We need to make education and learning into a video game. I can personally relate to this by having played a game called Runescape.

  • The Technician

    Love it but can’t help but wander how comfortable I feel thinking of how an AI will soon gain incontestable spatial reasoning skills from algorithms developed by humans. Sounds a little terminator like to me

  • Kiska

    Go Gamers

  • mark

    The easiest way to prevent the spread of AIDS is to cure the disease of homophilia.

  • Krammer

    You have a faulty system. When’s the last time Norway advanced medical science? Virtually all of the drug development and technological advancement comes from the US. Your system is nothing but a succubus on the US system. When Obamacare eliminates the profit motive, medical science development will move to India or China, two countries who have chosen to reqard development. And you know nothing of the Tea Party. Tea stands for taxed enough already, Obamacare is a tax – hence the Tea Party’s opposition.

  • P_Ivcec

    It costs many millions of dollars to jump through the regulatory hoops to get a new drug to market. That, you can thank government for.

  • What’s really annoying about stories like this is that scientists spend 10 years failing to solve the problem, then as a “last ditch effort” they hand it to gamers, who solve it in ten days, then the news laughingly says “haha, so play games, folks!” as if it’s some kind of joke. A decade wasted because scientists are too dismissive of gaming should be a scandal, not a slow news day tidbit.

    I wonder how many other things scientists are spending decades failing at and not asking gamers to help because gaming is viewed as this childish and useless thing that’s only worth trying when everything else has failed?

  • Yeah, right – so all the African babies born with HIV in Africa are caused by homosexual sex.


  • JJN

    I do thank government for it. I deeply appreciate having medicines with known and predictable effects, determined according to a well-documented testing methodology.

  • P_Ivcec

    People will always demand thorough drug testing regardless of what regulations that government imposes, the only difference is how much more expensive drugs are because of heavy regulations. Liberals will always cry about the cost of health care, but they will never look at the actual reasons why everything is so expensive.

  • dlep

    Ha! You’re quite the kidder, P_Ivcec. “People will always demand thorough drug testing” – that’s golden.
    (For those who don’t understand the joke, there are all sorts of “medicines” that aren’t regulated by the FDA, and aren’t tested by anyone other than people who have a vested interest in finding them to be safe. Among them: natural supplements and alternative medicines. Some of them are probably safe. Some might even work. How can you tell which ones? You can’t, because they aren’t thoroughly tested. And they aren’t tested because the government doesn’t require them to be.)

  • P_Ivcec

    Again, the government does not create the demand for drug testing, it merely imposes it’s own wildly expensive and inefficient version of it. Studies will be carried out which support and oppose any given treatment, and the fact that the FDA assumes the authority to regulate this market does nothing to eliminate vested interests from acting upon it. In fact, all it does is give big-agra and big-pharma one convenient location to focus all of their lobbying power in order to shield themselves from any culpability and also to make it too expensive for smaller competition to operate. Case in point is the lobbyist effort to reclassify vitamins and minerals as “drugs” that need to be heavily regulated, all while the FDA grants Monsanto legal shielding to operate its mass experiment in uncontrollable and unpredictable mutations. The one thing that probably should be outlawed at the Federal level and the FDA can’t even get that right. We’ve given these people so much responsibility and authority that it really should be no wonder that they are completely beyond reproach.

  • Arawra

    Thats bullshit, the costs of medical care in the United States vastly surpass other countries, and HINT, its not because of the cost of production. The net product of companies in the US outscales others countries primarily because of the cost associated with their products.

  • Coaster26

    Gamers may very well save the world, but the media isn’t done with using them as a scapegoat for everything gone wrong with people yet.

  • dlep

    The government doesn’t create demand for oversight; it ensures that there is actual oversight. Specifically, it demands independent oversight. Is there some politicking going on? Yes, and the politicking needs to be stopped. That’s not the same thing as saying a uniform independent oversight agency shouldn’t exist. It’s saying that, instead of fighting over whether it should exist, we should be figuring out how to fix it.

    As for vitamins… you don’t think it’s important to figure out how much of a vitamin or mineral you can ingest without it being toxic? (It can happen, you know.) Or to make sure that things that claim to be vitamins actual contain the amount of vitamins they say they do? Or that they don’t contain fillers that are unhealthy or interfere with vitamin digestion?

    The Chinese have a system without much regulation. Their freedom from oppression lead to poisons in their infant formula. But hey, at least it was a few cents cheaper than it would’ve been if that evil government regulation had been in place. Freedom from oppressive government oversight!

  • CWR

    Yes thank the gov for the fluoride in your water and the poison in your food. Americans are way healthier now that gov has got involved in everything. Or are they ?

  • P_Ivcec

    What you fail to understand is that government is not infallible. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and China is a perfect example. The communist part exercises totalitarian control over the entire country, and all that ends up happening is that they team up with their buddies in big-business and create fascist cartels out of every industry in the nation. The reason that Chinese companies are essentially free to poison people and the environment in any way that they please is because they are shielded by the Communist party. Same thing in the USA. Allow people the choice to do business in a free market manner, and focus government on civil lawsuits and criminal actions when necessary. Keep the government small enough so that it is possible for civil society to control. That is the only way to keep them from becoming corrupted by those who they are supposed to be policing.

  • AndrewK

    This is not a cure. It is a piece of relevant data that may get them there one day. An actual cure would require billions more in investment.

  • AndrewK

    You’re one of those anti-fluoride nutters? Oh brother.

  • AndrewK

    Yet you don’t feel the same way about the scientists? I spend 10-12 hours a day in lab making a fraction of what I could in other pursuits and you think it’s about the money?

  • CWR

    Only a gov supporter would think drinking toxic waste is good for your teeth as long as its in small doses.
    The gov also said radiation wasn’t harmfull. Gee I guess all the conspiracy nutters look stupid now dont they LOL

  • Morgan smith

    Are you for real or in a galaxy far far away O.o

  • Ryan

    You need to do research into the AI security field. One of my professors is one of the leading experts in preventing that from happening. Dr. Yampolskiy. Look it up, it’s pretty interesting stuff.

  • Spillkontroll

    I guess you prefer the alternative to a strongly regulated medical service, which is a privately and market-controlled medical service which will provide cheap and even free medicines that are either a) (sometimes too) quickly pushed into the market or b) addictive. Which might work in the short term.

    On the other side you have the well-tested medicines, the ones you know works. Cures, vaccines etc. that are absolutely vital to the public health, sold for a high price due to its market-controlled demand. If the pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies want to regulate the market, they will very well do so. We have examples of different companies and brands (illegaly) control the market. The worlds diamond business (notice that both the diamond and pharmaceutical business have similarities, both of them have a huge amount of resources (economical and therefore also political power), the abuse of weaker organisms (be it destroying nature and having horrible conditions for both children and adults working for the diamond business, and testing drugs on animals/humans, especially those who are in desperate need of quick money) and they are also as easy to get – diamonds are in plenty where they exist, but due to its location often being in corrupt and unstable countries, and drugs which is in plenty, but when companies own patents and blueprints on drugs, you can compare the availability of the drugs as diamonds.

    Despite the fact that the diamond business is highly unethical and greedy, the consequenses of a privately market-controlled pharmaceutical market is more dangerous because it’s vital to both public and individual health. It’s one of humans absolute primary needs and should not and can not be controlled by the same emotions and wants as we find in capitalistically driven markets.
    (Note: I am not saying the current pharmaceutical business is on a huge ethical highground, but as said, the alternative can only look up to the higher ground of the current system)

  • Daniel Pedroso

    Regulations have been simplified and eliminated since the 1980s. Now pharmaceuticals kill more people than all street drugs put together. So you think it is fair that the American people should be used as guinea pigs for big pharmaceutical corporations increased profit? Why do you think European Union will not allow U.S. drugs sales in Europe for 10 years so they can observed the damaged caused in the U.S. market.?




  • Really

    And which company will make necessary tests and than start producing it when after the tests all other companies will cut profits by setting much cheaper prices (they didn’t have to sponsor tests of course)? Basic economy…

  • Mike Peiman

    Fluorosilicic acid is very toxic. That’s the kind of “fluoride” added to 91% of fluoridated American drinking water. Decades of research show it inhibits higher brain function/development, and sexual potency and gonad size. It interferes with thyroid production by inhibiting/replacing iodine, an essential nutrient. Do your research and wake up – calling people “nutter” or “conspiracy theorist” is a lazy intellectual off switch.

    Here’s a good place to start:

  • Pete

    Different schools of thinking is all this is a good example of. I wish more scientists would do things like this, and ask for outside help solving problems. There’s almost always someone out there with a perspective that can help.

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  • Creative game and may be a reference in the future to make the game better.

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