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Playing a game could help save a life, maybe even your own

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Do you dream of helping to cure cancer? Now, even if you aren’t a research scientist you could help do just that. And the only tool you’ll need is either an iPhone 4s or higher or an iPad 2 or higher according to a Reuter’s article .

The British charity Cancer Research UK launched a gaming app today that it hopes will help speed up the decoding of the data to reveal patterns of genetic faults that cause cancer to grow and spread. The game can be played with older systems but the game play will not be the same.

The game is called “Play to Cure: Genes in Space,” and as the name suggests it is a futuristic space game. Players guide a space ship safely through a hazard-strewn intergalactic assault course.  Scientists hope that the game play will reveal patterns and provide analysis of variations in the genetic data. They will then use the information to work out which genes are faulty in cancer patients and eventually develop drugs that target specific genetic faults.

Using crowd sourcing for the work can dramatically cut down on the time scientists use to analyze the data. Last year a similar game called CellSlider cut the time researchers needed to analyze a set of breast cancer samples from 18 months to three months.

You health, especially your mental health, is your greatest asset in retirement.  Although we’ve yet to find the magic bullet, we do know that doing something for others, learning new things, and doing new things are all part of the answer to keeping your mind active and young.  Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Here’s an opportunity to do something different to stimulate your brain receptors in a fun way while doing something for someone else. Both are positive things you can do to slow down the natural process of aging. Here are some other tips for helping slow down the decline of brain function.

You can find the app in the iTunes store (it’s free).

If you’re interested in the citizen scientist idea but are not interested in a space game, Scientific American posts a running list of projects citizens can help with.



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