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Gamers wage war on cancer

"Citizen scientists" have helped experts to speed up the process of unlocking genetic data simply by playing a smartphone game.

In just one month, gamers using Cancer Research UK's app have accomplished the same amount of analysis that it would take one scientist six months to do manually, the charity said.

As players navigate the Play To Cure: Genes In Space game, which was developed by Dundee agency Guerilla Tea, they are helping to highlight flaws in the genetic make-up of cancer patients.

Cancer Research UK said that gamers from almost every country in the world have collectively spent 53,000 hours - six-and-a-half years - playing the game.

The game is set 800 years in the future and players are challenged to steer their spaceship to collect a valuable material, called Element Alpha. Gamers map out their route with the aim of collecting as much Element Alpha as possible.

As the gamers navigate their craft through space they are actually mapping out genetic data, which will later be analysed by scientists.

Players have been analysing data collected from 2000 breast cancer patients from three hospitals in the UK and two hospitals in Canada, and so far gamers have analysed around half the data from the first research project.

The app is free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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