Gamers help scientists study genetics and disease

December 7, 2011 -

Scientists are using a web-based video game to entice gamers to assist them in the study of genetic diseases.

The game, called Phylo and launched in November 2010, allows players to rearrange colored blocks that represent human DNA. Scientists have been studying the results and will release their findings soon. 

The game has more than 17,000 registered users and more than 350,000 solutions have been found to alignment sequence problems. According to an article on MedicalXpress.com, the game was created by Dr. Jérôme Waldispuhl and his students at McGill School of Computer Science:

Waldispuhl and his students came up with the idea of using a to solve the problem of DNA multiple sequence alignment because it is a task that is difficult for computers to do well. "There are some calculations that the human brain does more efficiently than any computer can. Recognizing and sorting visual patterns fall in that category," explained Waldispuhl. "Computers are best at handling large amounts of messy data, but where we require high accuracy, we need humans. In this case, the genomes we're analyzing have already been pre-aligned by computers, but there are parts of it that are misaligned. Our goal is to identify these parts and transform the task of aligning them into a puzzle people will want to sort out."

Waldisphul also said:

"Phylo has contributed to improving our understanding of the regulation of 521 genes involved in a variety of diseases. It also confirms that difficult computational problems can be embedded in a casual game that can easily be played by people without any scientific training. What we're doing here is different from classical citizen science approaches. We aren't substituting humans for computers or asking them to compete with the machines. They are working together. It's a synergy of humans and machines that helps to solve one of the most fundamental biological problems."

If you want to give scientists a helping hand, play the game.


Comments

Re: Gamers help scientists study genetics and disease

Stuff like Folding @home are good additions I think its great to leave your system on once a week to help out

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

EA has shuttered Maxis (The Sims, SimCity). Should it keep the Maxis name alive?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
WymorenceJeez, who'd have thought Yoshi doing a good deed was the reason for everything in Mushroom Kingdom being so screwed up...?03/04/2015 - 7:49pm
prh99The most popular games on Steam for 2014 http://bit.ly/1zLE0r403/04/2015 - 7:47pm
Papa MidnightWow, EZK. Oh my goodness, that timeline is huge.03/04/2015 - 6:59pm
E. Zachary KnightIt's the Super Mario timeline. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/386496/smbTimeline_huge.png03/04/2015 - 6:49pm
prh99There are the various URL shortening services.03/04/2015 - 6:45pm
WymorenceIronic that they're releasing a game about cops and robbers in essence while they don the "extortionist" mask...03/04/2015 - 6:38pm
james_fudgeI'm not a miracle worker :)03/04/2015 - 6:09pm
Craig R.That link is still awful due to the fact that the entire article title is part of the URL :P03/04/2015 - 6:00pm
MonteI'm really waiting to see more publishers get serious backlash for those horrible DLC practices03/04/2015 - 5:48pm
MonteBattlefield with prioty servers for those that pay... sounds like EA wasn't a big supporter of Net Neautrality03/04/2015 - 5:47pm
PHX Corp@james_fudge thanks03/04/2015 - 5:28pm
james_fudgePHX Corp. I shortened your link for you03/04/2015 - 5:18pm
Andrew EisenAgain, folks, please oh pretty please remove all that extraneous crap from the ass end of any links you wish to share. Everything from the "?" and on can be removed.03/04/2015 - 4:31pm
PHX Corphttp://www.destructoid.com/prepare-to-pay-full-price-twice-to-unlock-all-of-battlefield-hardline-s-exclusive-features-288492.phtml Prepare to pay full price twice to unlock all of Battlefield Hardline's exclusive features03/04/2015 - 4:26pm
Andrew EisenNew Age of Ultron trailer but someone hit the Image Stabilizer button and the damn thing jumps around so much I refuse to watch it until it's fixed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAUoeqvedMo03/04/2015 - 4:10pm
WonderkarpNobody cares about Wu, IanC. Moving on. Anybody playing DBX? I'm loving the hell out of it.03/04/2015 - 4:07pm
MechaCrashBecause of course NOW all the threats and harassment are real and neither false flags nor publicity stunts. Gee, I wonder what's different about all the other times Wu got harassed! Gosh, sure is a mystery!03/04/2015 - 3:52pm
ZippyDSMleeSince I dumped the escapist I need a good game site, is there anything worth while anymore?03/04/2015 - 3:48pm
ZippyDSMleeThe order looks and plays great...for a 35$ game!03/04/2015 - 3:43pm
IanCAlso no talk about how Wu is getting attacked by antogamergate people for daring to have a chat with a gamer gate dev and realising that they aren't all bad people? No? Oh well.03/04/2015 - 3:37pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician