Cure coronavirus by playing games

Find out how gamers are helping in the fight against Covid-19.
24 November 2020

Interview with 

Eva Higginbotham, The Naked Scientists


An artist's interpretation of a coronavirus particle.


Eva Higginbotham finds out how gamers in EVE Online are fighting Coronavirus. 

Probably the most important thing is we're trying to help scientists in the fight against COVID. So one of the technologies that's being widely used is full cytometry. What we use for assumption four is look at the different cells that are present in our blood, the white blood cells that are used to both detect infection and to fight infection. We, uh, take a sample of a patient's blood and we label the cells so that they glow with light. When they run past the laser one by one, what we label these cells is on proteins. On the cell surface that we know define the function of these cells.

These protein markers act as signposts to scientists telling them what kind of cells are present in a patient's blood. This is important because when your body mounts an immune response to something, a lot of different types of white blood cells get involved and understanding which immune cells are prevalent. And in what proportions tell scientists loads of information about how a patient is responding to an infection like coronavirus or a treatment scientists can now label up to 50 different proteins on the surface of these cells at the same time. So what Ryan and his team have done is broken down the 50 dimensional data into lots of two-dimensional puzzles. And that swear Eve online comes in. These 2D puzzles are prettied up and uploaded into the Eve online world where players can access them as a part of a mini game, like a side project to the main business of hunting down enemy spaceships. And the more puzzles you solve, the better rewards you get within the game.



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