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

 
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DocMelonheadPlus the constant Ad Hominem and Loaded Questions IP keeps on posting.05/30/2015 - 4:06pm
MattsworknameTo be honest, I think everyone gets worked up about there own personal causes, Ive done it to be sure. Ip just tends to do it all day everyday.05/30/2015 - 4:01pm
Andrew EisenNo problem. It's rarely an issue so it's not brought up much.05/30/2015 - 3:12pm
DocMelonheadsorry about that, it's just that it seems that IP wanted to make sure everyone knows that Gamergate were nothing but insecure harassers.05/30/2015 - 3:05pm
Andrew EisenFor instance, if everyone finds your comments annoying, try saying the same thing but in a different way. Who knows? Maybe a slight tweak in your approach to communicating will be all it takes to foster awesome and interesting discussions.05/30/2015 - 2:58pm
Andrew EisenDoc - I had to slightly edit a few of your comments. Please keep the heavier profanities out of the Shout box. And everyone, discussions are fine and dandy but do endeavor to keep things pleasant, okay?05/30/2015 - 2:51pm
DocMelonheadWhich is why I find him/her to be annoying as hell.05/30/2015 - 12:34pm
ConsterIP raises valid points sometimes, but they're drowned out by his "REPENT, SINNER!" attitude.05/30/2015 - 12:32pm
DocMelonheadOne of them were friend of those who got harassed by GameGate; another feel that GamerGate made it worst for people like her.05/30/2015 - 12:19pm
DocMelonheadI met several people at Boing Boing who have their own personal grude against them;05/30/2015 - 12:16pm
DocMelonheadSo, the question is this Iron Patriot, WHAT'S YOUR BEEF AGAINST GAMERGATE?05/30/2015 - 12:15pm
DocMelonheadThat's why many Anti-GG here see you as a JERK.05/30/2015 - 12:09pm
DocMelonheadSo in other words, You failed to keep a decent disscusion and proceed to talk down on those who argues against you.05/30/2015 - 12:08pm
DocMelonheadBut that's the thing, all you said that GamerGate is NOTHING BUT HARASSMENT AND VICTIM BLAMING05/30/2015 - 12:07pm
DocMelonheadAlso, IP you're no better than GamerGate; and yes, it ENABLE death threats, but not encourage them.05/30/2015 - 12:06pm
DocMelonheadSo who agree that the report buttion should be put back up.05/30/2015 - 12:05pm
DocMelonheadalso We all agree that you're annoy as heck IP05/30/2015 - 12:05pm
DocMelonheadGoth Skunk never gone victim blaming05/30/2015 - 12:04pm
DocMelonheadHarassment=Bullying.05/30/2015 - 12:01pm
IronPatriotBecause gamergate death threats, rape threats and doxxing are SO SIMILAR to pointing out the facts and logical failings of gamergate.05/30/2015 - 11:29am
 

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