The RNA game

It’s hard to predict folding patterns of RNA in cells. As Hayley Dunning describes, RNA has been “gamified” to give scientists some help: “Toying with RNA”.

Players of the game EteRNA are given a real-world RNA shape and asked to manipulate a chain of nucleotides to fit that shape, by observing how different patterns of nucleotides form certain structures, like loops or tails. Then, every week, a few molecules are selected for synthesis in a lab at Stanford to see how closely they match the desired shape.

The game itself, “EteRNA”, is pretty cute. It took me a few tries to realize it’s pronounced like the first six-sevenths of “eternal”.

I wish there were some way to gamify paleoanthropology. I mean, something more illuminating than just sticking Neandertals into World of Warcraft.