Foldit – a Year on: Over 1,000 Gamers Help to Combat the Most Powerful Foodborne Carcinogen

By David Crean
Oct 18, 2018 11:00 AM ET

Foldit – a year on: over 1,000 gamers help to combat the most powerful foodborn…

Originally published on LinkedIn

Exactly a year ago on World Food Day 2017, Mars and some of our global partners, said “game on!” to a toxin pervasive in many food supply chains - aflatoxin. Since then people from around the world have been working to investigate new approaches with the objective of creating the demise of aflatoxin. In this case, with a computer simulation called Foldit.

Aflatoxin has long been dubbed a silent killer – it’s the most powerful foodborne carcinogen we know of, but yet it contaminates 25% of our global food supply chain. Scientists and farmers have been trying to control this terrible threat for decades. Despite great progress so far, no research group or organization has managed to come up with a solution or intervention that is likely to be effective for all countries and under all conditions.

Such a daunting challenge can only be addressed by collaboration: we realized we have to work with others to maximize the diversity of thinking and strategies in how to take on aflatoxin, and improve the nutritional security of the 4.5 billion people that are chronically exposed to it. Foldit is an ideal platform for working towards this goal. So on World Food Day 2017, with our partners the University of California, Davis, Thermo Fisher Scientific, The University of Washington, Northeastern University and the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa we launched Foldit – an online computer-enabled challenge to facilitate the creation of new transformations of the complicated aflatoxin protein.

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