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jawz101's picture
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From what I've read, the goal is to find designs that can help to make drugs for certain diseases.

I guess I wanted to understand the distinction between drugs to help w/ symptoms after you get sick versus a vaccination to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

Are the projects for Coronavirus focused on making new drugs which people will take out of a last minute necessity once they are sick and cost people money... or is there protein folding that we can also do to focus on cheaper, preventive vaccination to not get sick in the first place?

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This may be useful
bkoep's picture
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Good question!

All of the Foldit coronavirus projects are focused on therapeutics, not vaccines.

The main reason for this is that CoV vaccine development has very little to gain from Foldit, which is built for protein structure prediction or protein design. The purpose of a vaccine is to train the natural immune system so that it can recognize the virus. Vaccine development is all about figuring out how to present existing viral proteins to the immune system, in such a way that the immune system "learns" to fight coronavirus. We don't need new designed proteins for this.

Therapeutic drug development is a very different problem. Therapeutics are not training the immune system to act; therapeutics are doing the action themselves. We need brand new drug molecules that have direct action on target proteins. Designed proteins have a lot of advantages as potential drugs, but they are very difficult to design. This is an area where Foldit players can make a big difference.

The goal of the CoV binder design puzzles is to inhibit viral particles and slow infection. It could potentially be used prophylactically (if you know in advance that someone will encounter a high risk of exposure), or in early stages of infection.

The goal of the anti-inflammatory design puzzles is to inhibit an overactive immune system. These would not be helpful in early stages of infection, but could be life-saving in serious COVID-19 cases. Also, since this strategy targets a general immune response (not the virus itself), this kind of drug could be useful for lots of different diseases beyond COVID-19.

Hopefully, vaccine researchers will come up with a 100% effective CoV vaccine that can be cheaply and efficiently distributed, and we won't have much need for COVID-19 therapeutics. Until that happens, we'll keep working!

jawz101's picture
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has the cytokine storm thing

has the cytokine storm thing still been a common complication?

bkoep's picture
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Yes

Yes

jawz101's picture
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another dumb question: is

another dumb question:

is there an approach that would instead try to work back from a perfect solution?

bkoep's picture
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Elaborate?

I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Can you say more about what you're thinking here?

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