Smartphone game which aims to aid cancer cure work launched

The new app allows gamers to help cancer research scientists analyse vast amounts of data

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A new smartphone game which results in players analysing real cancer data has been released with the aim of discovering new treatments.

While gamers take part in Play to Cure: Genes in Space the app will analyse a pool of data, highlighting genetic faults which can cause cancer.

The information is then relayed back to Cancer Research UK's scientists who can use it to create new cancer treatments.

The data processed by players may help speed up launches of new medications.

The game, developed with Dundee-based company Guerilla Tea, sees players guide a fast-paced spaceship safely along a hazard-strewn intergalactic assault course to collect precious material called "Element Alpha".

Start Quote

This is ambitious - it's no mean feat combining the most advanced genetic data with cutting-edge gaming technology”

End Quote Dr Harpal Kumar Cancer Research UK

Each time the player steers the spaceship to follow the Element Alpha path, this information is fed back to Cancer Research UK scientists - cleverly providing analysis of variations in gene data.

When the app is first opened it pulls in a section of gene information which is processed while the player is playing the game. When the app is closed the processed information is sent back to the Cancer Research databases.

Each section of gene data will be tracked by several different players to ensure accuracy.

Hannah Keartland, citizen science lead for Cancer Research UK, said: "Our world-first smartphone game is simply out of this world.

"Not only is it great fun to play - but every single second gamers spend directly helps our work to bring forward the day all cancers are cured.

"We hope thousands of people worldwide will play Play to Cure: Genes in Space as often as possible, to help our researchers get through this data. We urge people to give five minutes of their time wherever and whenever they can - whether they're waiting for their bus to arrive or they're in the hairdressers having a blow dry. Together, our free moments will help us beat cancer sooner."

Dundee cancer survivor Fiona MacLean has viewed and played the game and has urged the public to download it.

Ms MacLean, 54, who was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, said: "Cancer treatment can be gruelling and I suffered from side effects of my chemo treatment.

Play to Cure: Genes in Space When players steer the spaceship information is fed back to Cancer Research UK scientists

"Anything which can speed up the research into how our genes work will help people who develop cancer in the future by enabling the oncologist to target their individual treatment more effectively.

"I think that it is a great idea to use a game to help analyse the research data allowing everyone a chance to have fun and help at the same time."

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "We're enormously proud to launch our first mobile phone game which we believe will build on the great progress we're making to discover and develop the most effective new treatments for all cancers.

"This is ambitious - it's no mean feat combining the most advanced genetic data with cutting-edge gaming technology.

"And now we're calling on our supporters to join in by asking everyone to give up five minutes to play this fantastic game and help us discover cures for cancer sooner."

The game is available for both iOS and Android formats.

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