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Can video games cure cancer?

Technological advancement is often driven by the hardware demands of new video games. Now researchers say that such advancements are aiding in cancer research.
Do video games cure cancer 2012 02 21Enlarge
Visitors play at the 'Starcraft' stand of U.S. video game company Blizzard Entertainment during the 'gamescom', Europe's biggest trade fair for interactive games and entertainment on August 19, 2009 in Cologne, Germany. The inaugural gamescom in Cologne is a five-day games expo for consumers and trade. (Alex Grimm/AFP/Getty Images)

The biggest motivation for the advancement of computer technology is, more often than not, the hardware demands of new video games. As hardcore gamers run out to buy the latest pieces of hardware for their Skynet level computers, the cost for top of the line equipment is driven down.

A report on Wake Forest University gives a glimpse into the lab of biophysicist Samuel Cho, where he uses advanced GPUs (graphics processing units), to simulate cellular life. In the simulations, Cho can see the hidden states in the folding and unfolding of the RNA molecule in human telomerase enzyme found in cancerous cells, giving scientists a more accurate view of how the cellular molecule functions for the first time. 

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“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 in the report.

Researchers hope to develop a new drug that would stop the human telomerase enzyme from adding onto the DNA of the cell, so the tumor dies. 

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