A video game that helps cure cancer
Ever had someone annoyed with you because your head was down, fingers twitching on your phone's screen instead of listening to whatever it is they're saying? Next time that happens, you can apologize, explain that you're just helping cure cancer — but you're happy to put that on hold while they're talking about whatever it is that's so important.
Play to Cure: Genes in Space (Free) was developed by Cancer Research UK as a way to utilize mobile devices' processing power — and gamers' time and attention — to find patterns in genetic data, highlighting faults that can cause cancer and providing data that may help speed up launches of new medications.
In the game, players guide their spaceship along a hazard-strewn course, collecting something called "Element Alpha." Each time they redirect their toward a tasty batch of Element Alpha, the information is fed back to Cancer Research UK scientists. The patterns gamers follow through the game will provide the analysis researchers need.
"We hope thousands of people worldwide will play Play to Cure: Genes in Space as often as possible," the BBC quoted Cancer Research UK citizen science lead Hannah Keartland as saying, "to help our researchers get through this data. We urge people to give five minutes of their time wherever and whenever they can — whether they're waiting for their bus to arrive or they're in the hairdressers having a blow dry. Together, our free moments will help us beat cancer sooner."
You heard her. Get to work.