A study published by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology describes how gamers using an online gaming framework called Foldit, deciphered the structure of a key protein, retroviral protease, that plays a critical role in the way HIV multiplies. Since the game was developed by reserachers at the University of Washington and debuted in 2008, more than 236,00 players have registered to be a member of the Foldit community. “This is the first instance we (Foldit contributers) are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem….” If medical researchers can figure out the protein’s structure, they could conceivably design drugs to stop the virus in its tracks. Scientists and researchers have been unable to decipher this protein for years and it took members of the online gaming community only three weeks to produce an accurate model. A new field that enlists Internet users to help solve problems that sheer computer power can’t accomplish is called citizen science. Citizen science is another way to incorporate crowdsourcing into the life and science industry. “People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” Seth Cooper, a UW computer scientist who is Foldit’s lead designer and developer, explained in a news release. “Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans.” This framework has also aided in Cancer and Alzheimer’s research.