App of the Week: ‘Play to Cure’, a Game Which Helps Cure Cancer


A game launched by Cancer Research United Kingdom called Play to Cure: Genes in Space could become the app of the week thanks to its unique purpose, namely help cure cancer through the means of gamification. The reason behind this app is that scientists will be able to analyze the medical data with the help of gamers around the world.

Play to Cure: Genes in Space, a game which was created by agency Guerilla Tea is rapidly becoming the app of the week thanks to its sole aim: to help scientists research faulty genes, and therefore help them cure cancer. The app is free and anyone in the world can play it on iPhone or Android. Where gamers see asteroids, spaceships and a Space Invaders type of navigation, scientists see anomalies and investigations that can analyze gene variations which eventually help them develop treatments and cures for cancer. Although the game has already been downloaded 1.700 times which makes both scientists and developers believe it could become the app of the week and gain notoriety, this game which could help cure cancer must be downloaded and played by 10.000 people before experts can start analyzing the data.

Hannah Keartland from Cancer Research United Kingdom defined the game not only as “great fun to play,” but also extremely helpful for the analysts who, under normal conditions would have to spend years to go through all the data available. Each time the game is played, the patterns discovered by gamers return to experts from a cancer research laboratory at Cambridge University and allow them to discover flaws in genes that could be translated into new treatments.

In order to create Play to Cure: Genes in Space, Cancer Research United Kingdom had to collect over two million pieces of data from 2.000 patients with breast cancer in Canada and the United Kingdom. Keartland encourages people to “give five minutes of their time” to download this app and play the game, mentioning that the free moments which people sometimes use to play “will help us beat cancer sooner.” World Cancer Report showed that in Australia, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the largest killer and experts are expecting a global cancer “tsunami” over the next 20 years.

Cancer survivors have already tried the game and stated that this app is a great way to involve people around the world in finding a cure for cancer. Playing a game which helps scientists analyze the research data easier could be rewarding for gamers who can now bring a contribution to medical breakthroughs with regard to finding treatment for cancer.

After downloading the app and playing the game, the data analysis goes back to scientists whenever players map their routes through the Element Alpha and when they fly their spaceships through the intergalactic space course in order to collect the substance.

This app came into being in March 2013, after a team from Cancer Research United Kingdom joined forces with Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services developers, gamers, academics, scientists and designers to create an engaging game which can translate data. By incorporating a map of cancer cells into the game, scientists are now able to interpret data with the help of the app, but precautionary measures have been taken in order to ensure accuracy; each section of gene data is tracked by several different players before it reaches the laboratories of Cambridge University.

The game recorded 1.700 downloads and 7.000 plays in the first 24 hours after its release, which means that Play to Cure: Genes in Space has chances to become the app of the week and help scientists read data faster and eventually help cure cancer.

By Gabriela Motroc


Cancer Research UK 

BBC News


Daily Mail

The Independent

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