Facebook, Amazon, and Google All Help Charity Create Cancer-Busting Mobile Game

Three of technology's biggest names are donating manpower or resources to help Cancer Research U.K.'s drive to turn gamers into "citizen scientists."

Programmers and engineers from some of the biggest tech companies are teaming up with a cancer charity in the U.K. to create a mobile game that will aid research into the disease. The idea is being brainstormed this weekend in an attempt to transform research into a game format that will, in turn, make "citizen scientists" out of gamers and potentially crowdsource a cure for cancer.

To this end, Tech City in East London is hosting a GameJam, which starts today. What the hackathon aims to do is develop a game that uses the human eye to detect miniscule changes in gene data—peepers being the best way to detect these subtle differences. Loads of scientific types would be needed to analyse the data, but the reasoning behind this seems to be: Who needs to be a scientist when you've got eyes?

With Amazon Web Services providing the technology platform, Google is using its financial clout to support the cause and is hosting the hackathon at one of its venues in London. Facebook will be providing engineering expertise with some of its London-based engineering team, whose offices opened last year and who provide help to the U.K.'s new computer science curriculum.

The ultimate aim of the game (the working title is GeneRun) is to crowdsource a cure for cancer. This is something that the philanthropic sides of both Google and Facebook are no stranger to. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin teamed up with Yuri Milner to create the Breakthrough Prizes for Medical Research.

[Image by Flickr user thorstensson]

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