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Google, Amazon, Facebook to 'Hack' Cancer Research Mobile Game

Update Date: Feb 28, 2013 09:03 PM EST

Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services developers are teaming up with a British cancer research non-profit for a hackathon in a bid to design and develop a mobile game to accelerate cures for cancer, according to a statement.

Cancer Research UK, the non-profit leading the effort, said that 40 computer programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other specialists will take part in a "GameJam" this weekend in order to turn the charity's raw genetic data into a game format for future so-called "citizen scientists," the group said in a statement

Following the GameJam, an agency will build then game concept into reality and the team plans to launch it in mid 2013.

Professor Carlos Caldas, senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, said: "Future cancer patients will receive treatment targeted to the genetic fingerprint of their tumor and we hope this exciting project will bring forward the day this becomes a reality.

"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."

"We believe the best way to solve a problem is to bring smart people together to 'hack' a solution," Philip Su, engineering site director of Facebook London, said according to the statement. "That approach is just as valid in the field of life sciences as it is in software engineering. For us to be involved in something as important as the search for cures for cancer is a huge honour and we hope to help build on the incredible work done by Cancer Research UK."

Theo Bertram, public policy manager at Google, said: "We think this is a great initiative and we are very excited to be able to support this project. It's encouraging to see how technology and the collective power of people across the globe can help to find new ways to accelerate cures for cancer."

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Through our GameJam event we're bringing together the cream of the UK's technology specialists with our scientists as a collaborative force to accelerate cures for cancer outside the laboratory.

"By harnessing the collective force of the public, Cell Slider has already shown how we can dramatically reduce the analysis time for some of our clinical trials data from eighteen to three months. And this exciting event will provide a channel to help our scientists discover new genetic drivers of cancer that would otherwise take years to identify."

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