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Gaming Cancer Genomics

Got a little time to kill? Why not plop down on a sofa, rip open a bag of chips, fire up the smartphone and take off on a space adventure game to help cancer researchers sift through seas of genomic variant data?

That's the notion behind Play to Cure: Genes in Space, a mobile app game created for Cancer Research UK to harness the power of crowdsourcing to help cancer scientists analyze genomic information, the PHG foundation reports.

Developed by the gaming and software firm Guerilla Tea, the Element Alpha game enables players to take a spaceship on a cruise in search of stuff called Element Alpha.

But the landscape that the spaceship sails through corresponds to real genomic data, and the routes that players follow helps cancer researchers create maps of patters in genomic data and search for cancer-linked mutations.

CRUK wants to get as many people as possible to play the
game for a few minutes.

"We've been working with our scientists and gaming experts for months to build the game, which on the surface is a simple and entertaining caper through space. But underneath it's a data crunching powerhouse that's helping our scientists identify the DNA faults that could lead to cancer," CRUK says.