Synthetic pathways, crowdsourcing, and Foldit
|Opened on:||Friday, October 28, 2011 - 03:09|
|Last modified:||Friday, October 28, 2011 - 03:09|
I discovered eteRNA (http://eterna.cmu.edu) when mat747 of both Foldit and eteRNA fame suggested it to me. Since then, I have been awed by the remarkable progress of both communities. But then I started to wonder: could there be another project that used crowdsourcing to solve really big problems? And hence I came up with Strych - Foldit with syntethic pathways. The name is from strychnine, which Woodward synthesised in the 1950s.
The main aim of my envisioned Strych is to provide the same simplicity of the Foldit interface, but with players aiming for the most efficient synthetic pathway instead of the most well-folded protein. Again, the whole thing will be in 3D, but the individual units are atoms instead of amino acids. Electron density determines which atoms are bonded and which are not, and to make things simple only one of the molecule being worked on is shown. Essentially, it's a chemistry lab on a computer.
I put this forward because synthetic pathways are hard to make and often have very low yields; yet nature synthesises the same molecules with amazing efficiency. Although some natural syntheses have been replicated in glassware, they are rare, and throwing such challenges (make the most efficient pathway from A to B, for example) to the public might accelerate such finds. This is for the chemical industry, and finding new routes to a certain molecule is always a boon. This will help in creating more and better drugs towards helping the poor in Africa and other poverty-stricken areas. Is there any potential in this?
Reshiram For The Win