Molecular biologists have enlisted cutting-edge trends in genomics and big data to get a grip on one of the grand challenges of biotech: figuring out how protein molecules fold.
But they couldn’t have done it without the help of tens of thousands of volunteers.
The fruits of all that crowdsourced computer labor went public today in the journal Science. Researchers from the University of Washington and other institutions say they’ve solved more than 600 protein-folding mysteries – which represents a fair proportion of the estimated 5,200 protein families whose molecular structure was unknown.
Still more solutions are in the works, and solving those puzzles could lead to new types of medicines and synthetic molecular machinery.