April 07, 2020
Trillions of microbes inhabit the human body – some of which may be associated with conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, and more. Mapping these microbes helps scientists better understand them and may guide the development of more sensitive diagnostics and personalized treatments. However, because of the number of microbes, computers struggle to relate them.
This is where Borderlands Science, a mini-video game within Borderlands 3, comes in. Each puzzle encodes the DNA of several gut microbes as strings of bricks of four different shapes and colors. Players connect those colored shapes to help scientists estimate the similarity between each microbe. Then, DNApuzzles collects these solutions to train machine learning algorithms that will automatically compare the DNA of microbes.
All these new computer programs will be returned to The Microsetta Initiative that will use them to build an accurate map of microbes to accelerate future microbiome studies. And of course, all our data and code will be freely available to the whole community!