Crowdsourcing a Cure for Cancer with a Space Game

February 5, 2014 By IdeaConnection

gamespaceCancer charity, Cancer Research UK has launched a free app to let citizen scientists help create new cures for cancers.

The software program is a game called Play to Cure: Genes in Space where players have to seek out a fictional substance that represents genetic cancer data. As they pilot their ship variations in the genetic data are being simultaneously studied.

The idea for the game grew out of a brainstorming weekend involving teams of hackers, scientists and gamers. They were tasked with coming up with ways to get the public involved in crowdsourcing cures for cancer.

Onerous Task

Cancer researchers have collected vast amounts of genetic data taken from tumors. But to examine the DNA for genetic faults that may give rise to tumors is an enormous task involving thousands of hours of work. Hence the genesis of a game, to spread the workload.

Sharing the Workload

Scientists can use the information that comes back to them from the games to find faulty genes in cancer patients, and hence possible targets for future therapeutics.

Crowd Speeds Up Cancer Research

Hannah Keartland from Cancer Research UK told Channel 4 News in the UK: “Every single second gamers spend playing our Smartphone game directly helps our work to beat cancer sooner.”

The app is available to download for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play.


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