It has become evident that playing the game raises an interest in protein folding, diseases and possible ways to cure them.
Unfortunately, there is not much info on these topics provided on the fold.it website, so below are a couple of links that you might find useful.
(NOTE: the post was meant to be as simple as possible and therefore includes quite some wikipedia links. If you need more professional and reliable info please contact me)
You can find a very, very basic intro to proteins here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein
Once you know what a proteins is, and spent some time folding them, you might want to know more about the process of protein folding.
www.rcsb.org - will give you a general introduction to why and how proteins fold, why they fold in the first place and how the folding process may be aided by other proteins, called chaperones. You will get to know what "primary", "secondary" and "tertiary" structure is and learn some terminology useful for the fold.it chat.
Of course if all proteins were folded, life would be too simple ;) Here you can read about proteins that are natively unfolded - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsically_unstructured_proteins
Ok, now we know something about folding, but what happens if a protein does not fold properly? In general misfolded proteins are taken care of by either allowing them "another chance" (again with the help of chaperones) or they get "utilized" by the proteasome - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteasome
In case the protective mechanisms are not functioning well, protein misfolding may lead to disease. A large group of protein misfolding diseases are amyloidoses, which include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and prion diseases (e.g. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans or the mad cow disease). More info here: http://www.amyloidosis.org/whatisit.asp
To be able to cure the disease, we need to develop an understanding of how proteins fold and misfold. Currently our understanding of the process is based on linking the already know structures to the aminoacid sequence and in this way trying to predict structures of other proteins. In a "computing" approach this is done by Rosetta ( http://boinc.bakerlab.org/rosetta/ ) and fold.it is an experiment to check whether humans can also fold proteins based on pattern recognition, or what some people would call intuition. Rosetta and fold.it are both from the lab of David Baker ( http://depts.washington.edu/bakerpg/ )
Another interesting websites to visit are www.rcsb.org where you can look up structures of thousands of proteins, and http://www.expasy.ch/ - a database of bioinformatic tools which include software for prediction of structure from sequence etc.
I hope this helps you to get a better understanding of protein folding. If you have additional questions or any comments please let me know. I will do my best to provide answers for any "curious minds".
Happy folding everyone,
P.S. I think the devs owe me a beer ;)