Earlier this month, Medscape highlighted a smartphone game called “Play to Cure: Genes in Space” that is being used to help cure cancer. Each time a player navigates his or her space shuttle while collecting “Element Alpha,” genetic variations are being explored and analyzed. Patterns may reveal mutations in tumor biology that cause cancer to grow and spread. Determining which genes are cancer drivers will enable scientists to tailor treatment strategies and pinpoint the root of this disease. The game is one of two developed by Cancer Research UK.
This isn’t the first time that scientists have tapped gamers for their expertise. In a matter of weeks in 2011, online gamers were able to figure out the structure of a retroviral protease by playing “Foldit.” Retroviral protease is a protein involved in HIV replication. Foldit was created by a team based at the University of Washington.
Related Articles in PubMed:
Loguercio, S., B.M. Good, and A.I. Su, Dizeez: an online game for human gene-disease annotation. PLoS One, 2013. 8(8): p. e71171.
Kwak, D., et al., Open-Phylo: a customizable crowd-computing platform for multiple sequence alignment. Genome Biol, 2013. 14(10): p. R116.
Cooper, S., F. Khatib, and D. Baker, Increasing public involvement in structural biology. Structure, 2013. 21(9): p. 1482-4.
Eiben, C.B., et al., Increased Diels-Alderase activity through backbone remodeling guided by Foldit players. Nat Biotechnol, 2012. 30(2): p. 190-2.
Khatib, F., et al., Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2011. 18(10): p. 1175-7.
Khatib, F., et al., Algorithm discovery by protein folding game players. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2011. 108(47): p. 18949-53.
Cooper, S., et al., Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game. Nature, 2010. 466(7307): p. 756-60.