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Scientists have developed a video game that can help towards cancer research

Cancer research game AcCELLerate
(Image credit: King's College London's Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine)

A science-based video game is looking for players to help train its algorithm so that it can detect cancerous cells from just an image. 

AcCELLerate, as the game is known, requires players to trace over photos of dye-stained tongues using a smartphone or mouse, which isn’t as gross as it sounds. These fluorescent colored scans become more difficult to trace as the game progresses and with enough results, will go towards real scientific research into oral cancer.

By repeating this process, players will effectively be training an algorithm to detect certain patterns in medical images so it can eventually go on to pick out potential cancerous cells from a scan quicker than a scientist could by eye. The game was developed in collaboration with King's College London Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine and data founded by Dr. Priyanka Bhosale. 

As reported by Sky News (opens in new tab), Dr. Bhosale said that the results the public produce by playing the game will help them to “assess tumor tissue samples in a faster and more reliable way,” with the hope that this video game format can be used in other forms of cancer research in the future. 

The pixel-art game features a tutorial video that gives more context to what the game was designed for and how to play it. The video is presented by Ecty, the ectoderm cell, and not only works as a tutorial for the game but also as a mini science lesson as it explains what the photos we are being presented with mean and how they show when the cells in our tongues are not healthy. 

We’ve seen several examples of video games tackling issues surrounding health from Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure which aims to encourage its players to get more active, to more mental health focused games such as Ninja Theory’s Hellblade whose story has a heavy emphasis on the symptoms of psychosis. However, playing a game that was designed as a way to collect scientific data is a new one. 

If you’d like to try your hand at tracing around tongue cells as well as assisting in real scientific research, you can play AcCELLerate at citizen.cellari.io

For more games to play in a Google tab, take a look at our list of the best browser games

Hope Bellingham
News Writer

After studying Film Studies and Creative Writing at university, I was lucky enough to land a job as an intern at Player Two PR where I helped to release a number of indie titles. I then got even luckier when I became a Trainee News Writer at GamesRadar+ before being promoted to a fully-fledged News Writer after a year and a half of training.  My expertise lies in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cozy indies, and The Last of Us, but especially in the Kingdom Hearts series. I'm also known to write about the odd Korean drama for the Entertainment team every now and then.