CD47 Binder Design puzzles challenge Foldit users to design a protein that binds to CD47, a protein found on the surface of human cells.
The role of CD47 is described in the comments for the first puzzle in the series: Puzzle 2043: CD47 Binder Design: Round 1:
CD47 is a protein displayed on surface of human cells. Normally, CD47 is presented to the immune system as a "friendly" signal, and can prevent an over-zealous immune system from attacking healthy human tissue. However, some types of cancer will over-produce CD47 as a way to evade the immune system, camouflaging a tumor as "friendly" human tissue. A protein that binds to CD47 might be useful for treating these types of cancer. We'd like to design a protein binder that can block CD47 recognition by the immune system, and allow immune cells to attack tumors in the body.
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