Researchers Help Fight Breast Cancer by Playing a Game


Researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation collaborated with the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico and local gaming professionals to make GENIGMA. The game helps researchers untangle genetic sequences to create cancer cell lines.

Gamers will Help Create Cancer Cell Lines

It is a puzzle-solving game where players organize blocks in different colours and shapes. Moreover, it has different configurations to achieve the highest scores. When players solve these puzzles, they are helping researchers untangle genetic sequences for creating cancer cell lines. This information can help in combating breast cancer.

Marc A, ICREA research professor said,

“Cell lines are responsible for the discovery of vaccines, chemotherapies for cancer or IVF for infertility. This makes them a pillar of modern biology,”

Furthermore, Marti-Renom, whose research underpins GENIGMA said,

“However, the lack of genome reference maps limits current scientific progress. It’s like asking people to navigate modern cities using maps from the past. With the help of other people, we can update these maps, which will allow us to make fast progress in breast cancer research.”

The purpose of GENIGMA is to boost cancer line research efforts across the world. Since this information is critical considering studying cancer cells interact with various drugs. Moreover, one of the most common issues they face is a lack of accuracy and high-resolution reference maps that can allow them to point to the exact location of certain genes.

Individual Gene Location

In addition, the researchers have a belief that human-generated data will be more effective for updating these maps compared to the AI approach. Researchers developed multiple methods to create genomic reference maps by visualizing the genome in a 3D space.

Each game string represents a genetic sequence in the cancer cell line. The way they organize the strings depicts the potential structure of these sequences. It indicates the location of the genes individually. Furthermore, anyone can download this game on their smartphone.

Oriol Ripoll, Coordinator of GENIGMA game design team says,

“Science can often feel inaccessible for most people, which is why being able to pick up your phone to play GENIGMA is so exciting. Not only can you combine the universal appeal and popularity of video games to contribute towards advancing medical research, you will also learn more about science.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here