MCGILL (CAN) — A new online game that launched today allows players to contribute in a significant way to genetic research.
“There are some calculations that the human brain does more efficiently than any computer can, such as recognizing a face,” explains lead researcher Jérôme Waldispuhl of the School of Computer Science at McGill University.
“Recognizing and sorting the patterns in the human genetic code falls in that category. Our new online game enables players to have fun while contributing to genetic research—players can even choose which genetic disease they want to help decode.”
The game, called Phylo, has been tested within the scientific community to ensure its accuracy and was officially launched today.
“We’re hoping that people will enjoy playing the game and that many participants will sign up,” Waldispühl says.
“This is an opportunity for people to use their free time to contribute in an extremely important way to medical research.”
Many human diseases are caused by defects in the DNA code, and researchers are only just beginning to unravel this link.
Beyond offering the general public an opportunity to get involved in this research, the game is also useful for teaching the next generation of genetics researchers about their field.
“The precise genetic cause of most diseases is not known, but thanks to Phylo gamers, this research could be significantly improved,” says Alain Denise, a Bioinformatics and Computational Biology researcher at the University of Paris-Sud 11.
The researchers have their sights set high for the future of the game. “We would like to integrate this game directly into Facebook as an application. Farmville, move over!”
More news from McGill University: www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/