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The Value of Video Games

A new report in PLoS One shows that people playing the online game Phylo are helping researchers figure out problems in comparative genomics, reports Nature News' Stephen Strauss. The game was created to help researchers figure out multiple sequence alignments. "Although computer algorithms can do very rough alignments of sequences across species, they have proven inept at getting the answer just right," Strauss says. The study's lead author, McGill University's Jérôme Waldispühl, tells Strauss that "understanding when something breaks a general rule is very difficult for a computer but that is what human visual intelligence is very good at."

Waldispühl's team released Phylo in November 2010 with the aim of improving the sequence alignment of promoter regions of 521 disease-associated genes from 44 vertebrate species, Strauss says. Players' alignments were entered into a database and compared to alignments calculated by the University of California, Santa Cruz's MULTIZ alignment program. "The gamers produced roughly 350,000 solutions to various MSA problems, beating the accuracy of alignments from MULTIZ in roughly 70 per cent of the sequences they manipulated," Strauss says.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.