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Cancer Game Being Developed To Speed Up the Discovery of its Cure


Some forty so-called “hackers,” composed of computer programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other specialists, participated in a charity event in London on March 1-3 to design and develop a mobile game to speed up the discovery of a cure for cancer. The Cancer Research UK or CRUK organized the event dubbed as “GameJam”  together with popular technology sites such as Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google.

According to Carlos Caldas at the Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute, CRUK is currently making a lot of progress in understanding the genetic reasons that leads to the development of cancer. What they need to find out however is the reason some people are responding well to cancer drugs while others are not.

At present, CRUK has a vast amount of data that can answer the question. However, for the analysis of these data to be exact, humans and not machines are needed to make the analysis. This means that it could take a good several years before the analysis of the data is achieved hence it would take a longer time to finally discover a surefire cure for cancer. To know the results of the analysis, it would take thousands of people to analyze the data but the problem is that there is a limited resource of people to make the analysis.

Because of this, Cancer Research UK, together with Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google and the “forty hackers” convened over the weekend to try to conceptualize a pioneering idea that would allow ordinary citizens to take part in the research through data analysis. The innovative idea is to conceptualize a cancer game that anyone with a mobile device can play with during their idle time using the data that the research institute now have for their study in discovering a cure for cancer.

According to an article published in the website of the Cancer Research UK, the researchers came up with this cancer game idea in their wish to fast track the data analysis and they thought that it could be achieved using a fun means for people to help them. This could show that people may not have to know that they are already helping in the research because the cancer game would be engaging enough. Considering the number of people who download various game applications on their mobile devices in a single day, it is clear that it will not be difficult for the cancer game to meet its goal.

Further, Professor Carlos Caldas, senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute was quoted in the article stating that they are hoping to give future cancer patients a type of treatment targeted to the genetic makeup of their tumor.

At present, there is no news yet about the result of the weekend “GameJam.” What is known however is that the working title of the cancer game for now is “GeneRun.”

After the “GameJam” event, the research institute plans to tap the services of an agency to develop the concept and make it into reality. As of today, there is no word yet as to the name of the agency that will be tapped to work on this innovative research project.

Sources: Reuters and Cancer Research UK

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