New Sepsis Design Puzzle!
Sepsis is a potentially lethal condition affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year in which a severe infection spreads into the bloodstream, leading
to multi-organ systems failure and often death. Despite years of research, clinicians are in need of new treatments for sepsis.
Research teams at the University of Washington and at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing protein-based pathogen capture reagents to be used for the removal of circulating pathogens from the blood of patients. The approach combines online gaming as a platform to introduce and improve upon innovative protein designs with state-of-the art protein manufacturing capabilities critical in translating such designs for clinical applications.
Our original approach to this problem was to have FoldIt players focus on redesigning mammalian Mannose-Binding Lectin. This approach proved problematic, and we are now refocusing our efforts on a lectin from the snowdrop plant, Galanthus nivalis (GNA lectin). The goal here is to use Foldit to improve GNA's sugar binding capabilities, allowing for its potential clinical use. You will work towards this goal by redesigning specific regions of GNA in order to increase the number and strength of protein-sugar interactions.
At the conclusion of the challenge, the most promising Foldit designs will be manufactured and tested at the Wyss Institute in order to determine their pathogen capture capabilities, and whether they represent an improvement over natural GNA. If the current approach of using Foldit to target pathogens proves successful, we plan to continue our effort by designing additional capture reagents.
Join us in helping to solve this important public health issue!
Try out the new Sepsis Design Puzzle now: http://fold.it/portal/node/994591