I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: 'Citizen Scientists' to Break the Cancer Gene
This is where the dots join up and where social innovation on the Internet through the medium of social media is benefiting science. Facebook, Google and Amazon have teamed up with a British cancer charity, Cancer Research UK (CRUK), to design a mobile game that will allow members of the public to help the search for new cancer drugs. This ground-breaking project will allow smartphone users to play to investigate vital scientific data at the same time as playing a mobile game.
The first step for this e-project is for 40 computer programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other experts to get together in a weekend called "GameJam" in early March 2013 to turn CRUK's genetic data into a game format for what it has called its "citizen scientists" to play with as after GameJam, an agency will build the game concept into reality, to be launched later this year. Carlos Caldas at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Institute says, "We're making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops. But the clues to why some drugs will work and some won't are held in data which need to be analysed by the human eye - and this could take years. By harnessing the collective power of citizen scientists we'll accelerate the discovery of new ways to diagnose and treat cancer much more precisely."
CRUK's scientists are working hard to identify the genetic faults that drive cancer so that they can find new ways of diagnosing and treating patients in a more targeted approach, based on the patient's genetic profile and their tumours. In a major international social innovation study on breast cancer genetics, published in 2012 by CRUK researchers, concluded that diseases could now be categorized into 10 subtypes. This is a finding that could lead to more accurate and tailored treatment in future. This study also found several completely new genes that drive breast cancer, offering potential targets for new types of drugs!
However, the results of the above study involved a lot of research where copious amounts of data need to be analysed. Which is why this CRUK gaming project is pivotal, because it means through the advances in technology, scientists now can process data faster than ever, as a lot of it still needs to be looked at by people rather than machines, as the human eye can spot subtle changes that machines are not programmed to do.
This social innovation gaming app will be bringing thousands of people together to 'hack' a solution, as with the collective force of an army of people helping scientists to understand the data, the research speed becomes faster, leading to discoveries and ultimately, providing clues to the causes and drivers of cancer.
Photo Credit: Genome Map of Life