Necklace air freshener cleaner stays with you. The game, out today on iOS and Android and available in English is the result of a two-and-a-half-year long citizen science project developed by a team of researchers.
The game was created to boost worldwide research efforts that depend on cancer cell lines, a critical resource used by scientists to study cancer and test new drugs to treat the disease. One of the limitations of cancer cell lines are a lack of high-resolution genome reference maps, which are necessary to help researchers interpret their scientific results, for example pinpointing the location of genes of therapeutic interest or potential mutation sites.
Professor Marti-Renom’s research group has developed methods to create genomic reference maps by visualising the genome in three-dimensional space. However, this requires significant time and resources to train artificial intelligence, as well as vast computational power.
The researchers launched GENIGMA because they believe that data generated by players could be a more effective method of updating the reference maps compared to using AI alone. The ‘herd intelligence’ of players can also provide creative solutions in ways that AI might not be able to.
The game launches today with a three-month long campaign — the #GenigmaChallenge. Every week on Monday, for a total period of three months, the GENIGMA team will introduce new genome fragments from the T-47D cell line. The first genome fragments are from chromosome 17, which contain a high number of breast cancer related genes. This includes BRCA1, for which mutations have been with about 40% of inherited breast cancer.
GENIGMA was developed over two and a half years, involving more than 500 people across 13 workshops. The game was available by a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, including researchers and game developers.
According to Oriol Ripoll, science can often feel inaccessible for most people. That is why being able to pick up your phone to play GENIGMA is so exciting. Not only can you combine the universal appeal, you will also learn more about science.”