Researchers crowd-source Coronavirus treatment


Coronavirus Resources from the CDC

(KING)  A University of Washington team is crowd-sourcing the search for potential treatments for coronavirus.

They’re using a computer game called Foldit, and it’s all about folding proteins. Users tweak and modify renderings of proteins – an incredibly complex three-dimensional puzzle. 

Their research has to do with the way the rapidly-spreading coronavirus behaves in the human body. Once the virus is introduced, proteins on its surface bind to proteins on human cells. When they connect, it infects you and can replicate.

“What Foldit players will be doing is trying to design a new protein that can block this binding event,” said research scientist Brian Koepnick of UW’s Institute for Protein Design.

That essentially neutralizes the virus particle, Koepnick said, and finding a good match could lead to a targeted treatment – but it’s not the same thing as a vaccine.

“This could be used as an antiviral drug, something you could administer that would slow down or halt infection of coronavirus,” he said.

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