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Smartphone game to aid cancer research

Amazon, Facebook and Google join Cancer Research UK to create mobile game aimed at fighting cancer.
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2013 09:00
Cancer kills more than 7.5 million people every year around the world [Reuters]

Scientists from a British cancer charity are teaming up with technology giants Amazon, Facebook and Google to design and develop a mobile game aimed at speeding the search for new cancer drugs.

The project, led by the charity Cancer Research UK, should mean that anyone with a smart phone and five minutes to spare will be able to investigate vital scientific data at the same time as playing a mobile game.

The first step is for 40 computer programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other specialists to take part in a weekend "GameJam" to turn the charity's raw genetic data into a game format for future so-called "citizen scientists".

"We're making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops. But the clues to why some drugs will work and some won't are held in data which need to be analysed by the human eye - and this could take years," said Carlos Caldas at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Institute.

"By harnessing the collective power of citizen scientists we'll accelerate the discovery of new ways to diagnose and treat cancer much more precisely."

After the GameJam, which runs in London from March 1-3, an agency will build the game concept into reality and the team plans to launch it in mid-2013.

Cancer already kills more than 7.5 million people a year and the number of people with the disease worldwide is expected to surge by more than 75 percent by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation's cancer agency IARC.

CRUK's scientists are working hard to identify the genetic faults that drive cancer to try to find new ways of diagnosing and treating patients in a more targeted way based on their genetic profile and that of their tumours.

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Source:
Reuters
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