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Genes in Space - the game thats helping to find new cancer treatments

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by Startacus Admin

Everyone and their granny loves a good game now and then and here at Startacus we’re no different!  

But we, like most of you I’m sure, find that passing a level, collecting a gold star or exploding a pig is something of a hollow victory… we know we could be doing something much more productive with our time… but thats all about to change.

Cancer Research UK, in a happy collaboration with the scientists from Cambridge University, have developed the world’s first free mobile game that Genes in Spaceharnesses the collective force of its players to analyse actual genetic data in the hope of creating better treatments for breast cancer.

The Game

The overall premise of ‘Genes in Space’ is that you work as a recruit for “Bifrost Industries” who have charged you with gathering up an elusive and valuable substance known as Element Alpha. The aim of the game is to work your way through the ranks by collecting Element Alpha whilst doing loads of other cool stuff like avoiding and destroying asteroids, mapping your way through the densest areas of Element Alpha, trading what you have collected for points and upgrading your ship to increase your power.  

All sounds very exciting and addictive but how exactly does this help develop cancer treatments? And of course the answer is …well we’re not entirely sure, but then again neither are most people. What matters is the scientists know what they are doing and if they say that playing this game is helping them to cure cancer then we believe them !

What we do know is that as you play the game, you are actually analysing lots of complex information about human genes which is then sent back to the scientists who can use your ‘findings’ to help advance their battle against cancer.  There are two points during the game when this process takes place - firstly when you map your route through the Element Alpha and secondly when you fly your spaceship through the intergalactic space course to collect the substance.

You may be wondering “why is it necessary for this game to be created, surely the scientists could just do the data analysis themselves?” and whilst that is true, by taking part you are saving hours of their time…freeing them up to get on with the really important stuff...and lets face it, it’s loads of fun!

You can download Genes in Space now from all the usual places, so why not give it a go?

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Published on: 27th February 2014

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