Developers at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University have launched EteRNA
, a free-to-play online game that researchers claim could soon assist in the field of disease research.
Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, EteRNA
prompts players to create shapes using strands of RNA. Points are awarded if assembled player shapes match target combinations created by computer simulations.
According to the Pittsburg Business Times
, university scientists can use the computer-generated designs created in EteRNA
to synthesize molecules for medical research. Stanford researchers hope to synthesize approximately 100 molecule designs each week as the project continues.
"Nature confounds even our best computer models," said EteRNA lead game designer and CMU doctorate student Jeehyung Lee. "We knew that if we were to truly tap the wisdom of crowds, our game would have to expose players to every aspect of the scientific process: Design, yes, but also experimentation, analysis of results and incorporation of those results into future designs."