Video Games Lead to New Paths to Treat Cancer, Other Diseases

Captured by Newswise

Samuel Cho, a researcher at Wake Forest University, uses graphics processing units (GPUs), the technology that makes video game images so realistic, to simulate the inner workings of human cells. His research points to new paths for tumor-killing drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.

The cure for cancer comes down to this: video games.

In a research lab at Wake Forest University, biophysicist and computer scientist
Samuel Cho uses graphics processing units (GPUs), the technology that makes videogame images so realistic, to simulate the inner workings of human cells.

“If it wasn’t for gamers who kept buying these GPUs, the prices wouldn’t have dropped, and we couldn’t have used them for science,” Cho says.

Now he can see exactly how the cells live, divide and die.

And that, Cho says, opens up possibilities for new targets for tumor-killing drugs.

Cho’s most recent computer simulation, of a critical RNA molecule that is a component of the human telomerase enzyme, for the first time shows hidden states in the folding and unfolding of this molecule, giving scientists a far more accurate view of how it functions. The results of his research appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Cho worked with colleagues from the University of Maryland and Zhejiang University in China for this study.

The human telomerase enzyme is found only in cancerous cells. It adds tiny molecules called telomeres to the ends of DNA strands when cells divide – essentially preventing cells from dying.

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