Charity harnesses crowds for cancer research

Using the web to pool what we already know about cancer treatments is something that Cancer Commons is currently aiming for, but our latest spotting is now harnessing the crowds to help discover what we don’t know. ClicktoCure is a minisite set up by Cancer Research UK that hopes to get citizens to help it analyze data from its studies of the disease.

Scientists at the charity have been testing treatments on tumor samples and have amassed a dataset that is now ready for analysis. The data consists of cell slides that show how the tumors reacted to the treatments. Users logging onto the site are first given an explanation of what they will see – cells that range from white blood cells, normal tissue and irregular cells – and how to tell the difference between them. The project wants citizens to identify any irregular cells, how many have been affected by a yellow stain added during the research process and how bright the stain is. Responders simply click on the options they believe are right before moving on to the next slide.

The project, which was created in collaboration with Zooniverse – the site that enables people take part in analyzing space data from NASA – hopes to accelerate cancer researchers’ findings to find a cure for the disease more quickly. With more than 120,000 images already identified, it should also free up scientists so they can get on with the more complicated side of research. Could other fields benefit from this kind of project?


Spotted by: Lily Dixon

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