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Puzzle 971c is LIVE

Hey folders,
We discovered some issues on 971 (version 2) thanks to your speedy feedback. This fix will also address the TYPE_CARTESIAN error that was reported. We appreciate all of the reports on our previously reposted 971 puzzle and if you find anything else, let us know ASAP.

Happy folding!

(Wed, 08/20/2014 - 20:59  |  0 comments)

DevChat log? We have that!

Kaboom! Our Devchat is done, and the log is up. Next up- a science chat in October! If we didn't get to your question, we had a lot to go through and appreciate your posts! Thank you all so much for coming.

(Tue, 08/19/2014 - 22:23  |  2 comments)

The Case of the Vanished Puzzle

Hi folders!

Some of you may have noticed that a certain puzzle has gone missing. Well, good news/bad news. The bad news is we jumped the gun on that particular Ebola puzzle and we're sorry about that. The good news is, we have another puzzle on the way that should be entertaining and fun. In the meantime, we have puzzle 970 up and running while we work on testing the replacement puzzle. 970 is a throwback to Foldit's early days, all the way back to puzzle 125. You will NOT be able to load in any previous solutions for this puzzle, although if you have a solution that goes back that far, we're impressed.

Sorry for the trouble about the missing puzzle.

UPDATE: The new puzzle is now live!

(Tue, 08/19/2014 - 02:40  |  0 comments)

Reminder: DevChat Tomorrow

Come join us in the #global channel tomorrow for our DevChat! A transcript will be available on the site after the event. Remember, the chat is from 1400-1500 Pacific (or convert to your time zone here).

If you need help getting into #global chat, check out this helpful guide for assistance.

Please ask your questions here!

(Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:35  |  0 comments)

Continuing the battle against Ebola

As you know, the current Ebola outbreak in Western Africa has now claimed over 1,000 lives, making it the worst Ebola outbreak to date. Currently, no proven treatment or vaccine exists to combat Ebola. It has been some time since our last Ebola design puzzles (http://fold.it/portal/node/997612 and https://fold.it/portal/node/997525) were posted. These, in combination with the initial hotspot-finding puzzle (https://fold.it/portal/node/996919), have both yielded some great leads that we are currently working to test in the wet lab. In particular, some of the best player hotspots yielded excellent starting points for the design of small, cyclic peptides that we're quite excited about.

The process of going from a candidate design to a drug ready for deployment in the field is a long one. We start by screening a large number of candidates for binding to the Ebola surface glycoprotein, using high-throughput methods. Because the Ebola virus is obviously quite dangerous, we can't work with it ourselves in our wet lab. We therefore use Ebola proteins that have been made in harmless strains of bacteria, using recombinant DNA technology. As for the candidate designs, we express these in baker's yeast, also using recombinant techniques. Because we are using high-throughput methods at this stage, we expect some false positives from our screen. Some candidates, for example, are just generally "sticky", and bind to pretty much anything. These would not be useful as drugs, since they'd stick to all sorts of other things in the body, but they show up in the initial screen as a hit.

Once we have some possible hits from our initial screen, we express and purify larger amounts of these second-round candidates for more careful experimental validation using lower-throughput techniques. At this stage, we need to do careful controls to confirm that the second-round candidates aren't just generally sticky. We also start to get quantitative at this point, to see whether a design binds tightly enough to be a useful drug, or whether it needs further redesign to improve its binding affinity.

Through collaborators, we will ultimately test candidates that pass all of our tests in cell culture, then in animals infected with the virus. The road to human trials is longer still, since it's necessary to show that a drug is safe before it can be given to sick people. Even with a disease as horrible as Ebola, one has to be sure that the treatment isn't worse than the disease. We're not yet anywhere near the stage at which candidates could be administered to people suffering from the Ebola virus -- but with time, effort, and patience, we hope to get there.

In the mean time, now that CASP is winding down, we will be posting a few more Ebola puzzles in the next few days. In particular, I'm curious about whether players could do better than the automated algorithms at designing a heavily disulfide cross-linked peptide to bind to the Ebola glycoprotein... We look forward to finding out!

( Posted by  v_mulligan 134 3362  |  Thu, 08/14/2014 - 04:32  |  0 comments )
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