Sneak Preview: HIV Design Game
We are approaching a release date for our first protein design game. In these classes of games, you will still fold proteins, pack them in the smallest possible places, bury the hydrophobics, etc. In addition you will be able to craft different parts of the protein in order to achieve secondary goals. For example, an additional goal could be that the external shape of the created protein fits very nicely with a virus, or any other molecule.
You will be crafting proteins by changing the actual amino acids anywhere on the backbone, and even extending the protein sequence. There will be a few new tools, and even some additional requirements for a successful design aside from the score. To get you ready to make your own proteins we will be introducing new set of level puzzles specifically focusing on protein design.
We are particularly excited about this new chapter in foldit evolution because there are practically no automated methods for protein design -- you will be primarily competing with the biochemistry experts to find the best novel protein structures. In my view, I think foldit players will likely provide even greater advancement to science with design problems. The best part is that each set of puzzles will be focusing on a different target, such as an HIV virus. The best scoring proteins will then be synthesized in the biochemistry lab in order to confirm it's folding structure and the protein function. The biochemists focusing on the specific problems will keep us all up to date with the findings. These findings in turn will produce new design puzzles for us to work on. Effectively, you will all be the crucial part of the scientific exploration process!
The first design puzzle will focus on the HIV virus. Some time around the release date, we will introduce you to the biochemist who will describe the objective, and the scientific hypothesis you will be working on. The tentative release date is second part of March.
First chat time
It seems that our players are all over the globe, so we'll just try to have chat sessions at different times of the day until we converge to a regular time. Over the weeks, I'll make sure that you get to pick the brains of other members of our dev team, especially Seth Cooper (foldit is his PhD thesis), our newly formed satellite dev team in Pittsburgh, as well as David Baker and folks from this lab.
The first chat is scheduled for Thursday 8:30pm PST.
See you there!
Today's Downtime and Poll for Possible Chat Sessions Times
It looks like we survived the update of our database, file server and web clients today. the new setup should allow us to scale up to the additional protein design challenges, and allow us to expand the game so that you can design your own tools and protocols for refining proteins (more on that in the upcoming blog post).
It has been suggested several times that we're falling short on "customer support" aspect of this project. We have to agree with you on this. It's simply a tradeoff between all the things we have to do to move this project towards eventual scientific discoveries and all the things that our players would like us to do.
To demonstrate that we listen to your suggestions, we'll setup specific times where developers will be available for the in-game chat. We'll log these chats and have a special place for them on the web site.
So my question is what might be the best time to hold such a chat session? Make yourself heard below and we'll try to schedule something as long as it is within the reasonable hours in PST time zone.