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 :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenTrue, but I liked the fact that rather than do a crappy looking version of the PS3/360 version, it went with an art style more suited to the Wii's strengths.11/23/2014 - 12:26am
Wonderkarpif I had the money, I'd buy one of those expensive proton pack replicas11/22/2014 - 11:25pm
Wonderkarpthats the wii version though. the PS3/360 version is far superior.11/22/2014 - 11:19pm
Andrew EisenOdd that there was no hose connecting the thrower to the backpack. Was there just no more horsepower left in the Wii to animate it? And did seriously no one on the dev or QA team notice the Ghostbusters patch on the player's sleeve was backwards?11/22/2014 - 11:17pm
Andrew EisenI played it one the Wii and rather liked it.11/22/2014 - 11:15pm
Neo_DrKefkaGhostbusters on the PS3 and Xbox is Ghostbusters III for me. It was a short but wonderful experience.11/22/2014 - 11:13pm
Andrew EisenGhostbusters is my number one but the other films in my top 5 are Blues Brothers, Nightmare Before Christmas, Little Shop of Horrors (the Frank Oz one) and Jaws.11/22/2014 - 11:05pm
Wonderkarpso interesting info about that blocklist I'm on https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B3GOLniCUAAnHbP.png11/22/2014 - 10:54pm
Wonderkarpspeaking of game swag, went to a GTAV midnight release at a gamestop. I was getting WWE2k15. First in line so I got 2 free posters and a free Los Santos Sherrif hat that doesnt fit my head. Still sits proudly on a shelf11/22/2014 - 10:34pm
Wonderkarpno pics though cause I'm going to be moving soon hopefully so I'm not too keen on working on it, other than buying some stuff.11/22/2014 - 10:33pm
WonderkarpGhostbusters, Alien, and Aliens make up my top 3 favorite films. Its not a Coincidence that Sigourney Weaver is my favorite Actress11/22/2014 - 10:31pm
Andrew EisenIf you do build a game room you're proud of, do post pics.11/22/2014 - 10:31pm
Andrew EisenGhostbusters! My favorite movie.11/22/2014 - 10:21pm
Wonderkarpthough not strictly games. I have Lightsabers mounted on the wall, and on a shelf you'll see the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ocarina of Time, a Sith Holocron, and some of my Ghostbusters Props11/22/2014 - 8:57pm
Wonderkarpswag of all kinds, Andrew. I'm trying to build a game room as impressive as AVGNs nerd room. I'm also trying to build a coffee table/storage space shaped like a NES Controller11/22/2014 - 8:55pm
E. Zachary KnightI need new controllers for my Gamecube. Its not everyday you can get brand new 1st party controllers.11/22/2014 - 8:51pm
Andrew EisenPredominately figurines or swag of all kinds?11/22/2014 - 8:37pm
WonderkarpI would like a new gamecube controller....but I also just like gaming swag....11/22/2014 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI'm just waiting to buy a new Gamecube controller for my Gamecube.11/22/2014 - 7:15pm
Wonderkarphttp://kotaku.com/smash-bros-gamecube-adapters-sold-out-online-prices-g-1662162871 Smash Bros Gamecube adapter sold out, online prices go nuts11/22/2014 - 6:50pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician