Scientists at Stanford University, together with colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010, developed the computer game EteRNA. The goal of the project is to arrange a kind of brainstorming with the participation of thousands of gamers to solve two-dimensional puzzles associated with the assembly of RNA molecules. At its peak in early 2016, up to 100, 000 players participated in the game.
The newly released version of the game invites its participants to create a new RNA molecule using CRISPR / Cas9 genome editing technology.
One of the main features of EteRNA is that the vast majority of players have nothing to do with genetics or molecular biology. Nevertheless, scientists set a number of difficult tasks for them, in particular, to create a simple and accurate method of blood analysis for tuberculosis and to come to grips with the technology of editing the human genome.
Stanford University professor Howard Chang commented on such an unusual experiment:
“Great ideas can come from anywhere, so we tried to 'democratize' science by bringing in non-specialists. Many people have talents, sometimes unaware of them, and this may be their calling. Imagine that a simple security guard can become an excellent biochemist-RNA researcher, and he knows nothing about it.
In the new version of EteRNA, players are invited to create unique RNA molecules that can be directed to targeted gene modification using CRISPR / Cas9 technology. Professional scientists are ready to consider thousands of different solutions proposed during the game, which can then be tested in the laboratory.
The practical implementation of joint solutions makes EteRNA unique. Thanks to her, any Internet user can try his hand at an unknown field of science.