Millions of computer users are being invited to contribute to cancer research via an interactive website.
The “citizen science” project from Cancer Research UK is the first of its kind in the world.
It is designed to speed up the rate at which molecules can be identified in cancer cells that may predict how a patient responds to treatment.
The Cell Slider website presents real images of tumour samples and operates in a similar way to the card game snap.
Users are first guided through a tutorial which explains which cells to analyse and which ones to ignore.
Once cancer cells have been identified by their irregular shape, users are asked to record how many have been stained yellow and how bright the colour is.
They do this by clicking on another image that most closely matches the sample they are viewing. The information is fed back to researchers who look for correlations between cell types and treatment responses.
Professor Paul Pharoah, from Cambridge University, who helped develop Cell Slider, said: “We’re really excited to be involved in this world-first project and we’re extremely eager to see what this can do for our research in the future.
“There is information that can transform cancer treatments buried in our data – we just need the manpower to unlock them. We’ve turned our data into something that can be accessed by anyone – you don’t have to be a scientist to carry out this type of cancer research.
“If we can get millions of people on Cell Slider, we hope to condense what normally takes years of research into months.”
Is this something you would consider to be involved with?
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