Mobile Game Might Aid Scientists in Finding Cure for Cancer

March 8, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases and no sustainable cure has yet been found for it. However, the scientists of Cancer Research Centre, UK now think that they can, with the help of other researchers in the field. And the method they are adopting? Gaming!

Yes, plain old online gaming is on the verge of becoming a life saver! Anyone with a smartphone and 5 minutes to spare will soon be able to investigate vital scientific data in the time as it takes to play a game on their mobile phone.

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


After the GameJam, which ran in London from March 1-3, an agency would turn the game concept into reality, and the team plans to launch it in mid-2013. According to the WHO’s cancer agency IARC, cancer 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% by 2030.

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

According to the firm, the human eye can detect subtle changes that machines are not programmed to look for that could in turn lead to serendipitous discoveries providing clues to the causes and drivers of the disease.

With the collective power of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe helping the scientists to analyze this data, the community could drastically speed up research. Philip Su, The Engineering Site Director of Facebook London, says that his company believes the best way to solve a problem is by bringing smart people together to ‘hack’ a solution.

This approach, he says, is just as valid in the field of life sciences as it is in software engineering. And he is about to be proven right with this cancer cure project.

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