Innovation for a Cure: Scientists Collaborate to Design a ‘Cancer Research’ App

Cancer Research UK

In a collaborative effort with the likes of Facebook, Amazon & Google’s powerhouse developers, British scientists are developing a mobile ‘game’ with the aim of speeding the search for new cancer treatments, vaccines or a cure. Charity Research UK(CRUK) will provide anyone with a smartphone the ability to investigate and scrutinize important scientific data through a mini-game. A weekend “Game Jam” as they called it was held with 40 programmers, gamers, graphic designers and varied specialists in order to translate the charity’s raw data into a new gaming format for what they’re calling ‘citizen scientists’. Cancer Research UK is aiming for a mid 2013 release.

“We’re making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops. But the clue to why some drugs will work and some won’t are held in data which needs to be analyzed by the human eye– and this could take years. By harnessing the collective power of ‘citizen scientists’ we’ll accelerate the discovery of new ways to diagnose and treat cancer that much more precisely” – Carlos Caldas of Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute

According to the World Health Organization’s cancer agency(IARC), Cancer currently kills more than 7.5 million people annually, and that number is expected to increase exponentially by 2030, prompting alternative methods to aid in Cancer research.

“The human eye can detect subtle changes that machines are not programmed to look for – leading 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 our scientists to analyze this data we could drastically speed up research.”

Engineering Site Director Philip Su of Facebook London asserts that the best way to resolve this issue “is to bring smart people together to ‘hack’ a solution. That approach is just as valid in the field of life sciences as it is in software engineering.” Efforts such as things echo Secure The World’s mantra of ‘The synergy of Social IT at your fingertips.” — meaning, a full collaborative effort for the greater good of the community will serve to resolve important issues possibly in a fraction of the time. We’ll keep you posted with any further developments.



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