The Check-Up: Science Meets Mario Bros.

Video gamers helped scientists crack a 10-year-old HIV mystery

All those hours my neighbor spent in front of his Super Nintendo when we were growing up could have apparently been put to really good use. By playing a game called Fold-It, video gamers have cracked an HIV mystery that’s puzzled scientists for 10 years. The game, which prompts players to “unfold chains of amino acids,” led gamers to develop an accurate 3D rendering of a viral enzyme that’s in the same family as HIV; in fact, it’s close enough in the family tree that this model could be used to come up with new—and potent—treatments for HIV. Neat, huh?

Read more about the game here.