“If you’ve ever wanted to help cure cancer, you might now be able to do so – from the comfort of your own home,” begins this BBC News article on a game that will help anyone with a smartphone help scientists better understand how cancer cells work:
Scientists at Cancer Research UK have developed a smartphone game to help them analyze information from the largest genetic study into breast cancer. Game developers worked with these scientists to translate anonymous genetic data gathered from thousands of breast tumors into an adventure in space.
They hope thousands of people will play the game, “Play to Cure: Genes in Space” and help them pinpoint more precisely which genes cause the disease. Computer software isn’t accurate enough to decode this data, and it would take years for scientists to sort through this data alone.
In the game, players navigate their spaceships safely around many obstructions while on a fast-paced mission to collect a precious material known as Element Alpha.
As they do so they guide their ships across mountains and valleys, corresponding to areas of the genome hiding the potentially cancer-promoting faults.
The map each player plots is then sent back to scientists for interpretation. As more people highlight the peaks and troughs, scientists are alerted to these as areas worth further exploration.
This has worked before: In 2013, Cancer Research UK launched a game called “Cell Slider,” and more than 200,000 people helped them classify nearly almost 2 million cancer images—reducing the time it would have taken scientists to analyze the breast cancer samples from 18 months to just three.
Take Action Challenge:
Download “Play to Cure: Genes in Space” to your smartphone for free, start playing, and tell your friends!