Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Value of Video Games

A new report in PLoS One shows that people playing the online game Phylo are helping researchers figure out problems in comparative genomics, reports Nature News' Stephen Strauss. The game was created to help researchers figure out multiple sequence alignments. "Although computer algorithms can do very rough alignments of sequences across species, they have proven inept at getting the answer just right," Strauss says. The study's lead author, McGill University's Jérôme Waldispühl, tells Strauss that "understanding when something breaks a general rule is very difficult for a computer but that is what human visual intelligence is very good at."

Waldispühl's team released Phylo in November 2010 with the aim of improving the sequence alignment of promoter regions of 521 disease-associated genes from 44 vertebrate species, Strauss says. Players' alignments were entered into a database and compared to alignments calculated by the University of California, Santa Cruz's MULTIZ alignment program. "The gamers produced roughly 350,000 solutions to various MSA problems, beating the accuracy of alignments from MULTIZ in roughly 70 per cent of the sequences they manipulated," Strauss says.

The Scan

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.

Estonian Biobank Team Digs into Results Return Strategies, Experiences

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics outline a procedure developed for individual return of results for the population biobank, along with participant experiences conveyed in survey data.

Rare Recessive Disease Insights Found in Individual Genomes

Researchers predict in Genome Medicine cross-population deletions and autosomal recessive disease impacts by analyzing recurrent nonallelic homologous recombination-related deletions.

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.