Play to Cure: Genes in Space Helps Cancer Research

New game sets its sights on helping to cure cancer. Researchers say "results have been up to 15 percent more accurate."

There are a lot of ways that video games help you physically. Some say that playing games in moderation improve your reflexes, stamina, or even your hand-eye coordination. However, those benefits pale in comparison to what doctors in the UK say they can do. According to a report by Dr. Max Gomez, of CBS New York, physicians in the U.K. are using a video game to decode cancer.

The game is Play to Cure: Genes in Space and is designed to assist researchers from the Cancer Research U.K. analyze cancer genomes. Dr. Gomez explains in his article,

“The software converts gene patterns from more than 2,000 tumor samples into asteroids. The game is designed so that players mimic what scientists would do if they were looking for patterns in the DNA of breast cancer patients. Mapping a route through the asteroid field actually translates into data that help researchers find the mutations that lead to cancer.”

Dr. Kat Arney, one of the researchers behind the game, gives a simple explanation of how the scientists will use the player data:

“Every route you fly will be fed back to our scientists in Cambridge and will help them hone in on key parts of the genome that they need to be looking at to understand how cancer cells are growing, how they’re going wrong.”


Early testing with the game shows results up to “15 percent more accurate” than the current methods used by researchers. This is phenomenal and goes to show how video games can help civilization as a whole. Maybe one day, we will be able to look back and say that video games were an instrumental part of curing all cancer.

If you would like to take part in helping to cure cancer, Play to Cure: Genes in Space is a free download and available on iOS and Android devices.

Published Feb. 6th 2014
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