Foldit uses citizen scientists to crowdsource contributions to protein research is necessary to understand to cure diseases. Recently with this project, participants have helped proteins that could block the COVID-19 virus from infiltrating human cells.
Problems and Purpose
Foldit is a puzzle game from 2008 which uses crowdsourced participation for protein research. Given the 2020 spread of the COVID-19, a coronavirus, a new puzzle called "Coronavirus Spike Protein Binder Design" allows users to create antiviral proteins that could be used to counteract the spike protein of COVID-19.
According to Foldit's official Twitter account, the "most promising ideas generated by the game will be tested and possibly manufactured by UW's Institute for Protein Design" which is based in Seattle, US.
Background History and Context
Foldit debuted in 2008 out of an experimental research project developed by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science and Department of Biochemistry. The coronavirus puzzle is Foldit's 1,808th game.
In 2011, participants of the game "helped discover the molecular structure of retroviral proteases enzyme M-PMV, which has a major role in the development of a virus similar to HIV", a problem that had been puzzling scientists for a decade. Then in 2016, the game participants found the structure of a "protein that could help plaque formation" an important aspect of research on Alzheimer's.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The puzzle game is open for downloading and playing by all who are interested. Since its inception, Foldit has crowdsourced contributions to protein research from over 200,000 registered players. Over 2,500 players have contributed to the coronavirus puzzles, as of March 12, 2020.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Analysis and Lessons Learned
 Foldit. (2020, Feb 28). Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/Foldit/status/123351076633623347
 Brown, Evan Nicole. (2020, March 12). "How scientists are crowdsourcing a coronavirus treatment." Fast Company. Available at https://www.fastcompany.com/90470524/how-scientists-are-crowdsourcing-a-coronavirus-vaccine
 McGrath, J. (2020, March 4). "How a puzzle game could help scientists find a coronavirus cure." Digital Trends. Available at https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/coronavirus-cure-foldit-protein-folding-game/
 Levy, Nat. (2020, March 2). "University of Washington coronavirus puzzle game aims to crowdsource a cure." Available at https://www.geekwire.com/2020/university-washington-coronavirus-puzzle-game-aims-crowdsource-cure/