Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Click to Cure


In the thousands of years since the invention of medicine, we have cured and almost completely eradicated hundreds of disease, such as smallpox, polio, and the bubonic plague. One disease that we have yet to cure however, has been cancer. In fact, cancer is one of the most mindboggling diseases known to us. There is no guaranteed treatment that will be 100% effective, and to even stand a chance against it, you have to undergo horrible chemicals pumped into your body, radiation, and risky surgeries to remove it. Research into what causes, and can cure this disease, has been at a crawl due to the millions of factors that effect it. Trying to figure out all the variables, and how they effect a cancer cell would be something that only hundreds of supercomputers could do...or you know...you could ask the internet for help.

Cancer Research UK created an online interactive database called Click to Cure, that invites Internet users to aid in the fight against cancer, as long as they're willing to do a boring, repetitive task for free. Let's be honest, that's what we usually do anyway! I mean, how often can you harvest your virtual crops before it gets mind-numbing?

The idea came from various projects developed by astronomers, which use crowdsourcing to document millions of galaxies. Even though slides of human tissue are, as a whole, a lot less enthralling to look at than the eternal mysteries of the deep cosmos, people seem to be taking up the cause. When users log in to Click to Cure, they are met with a quick tutorial that demonstrates how to identify cancer cells by identifying their irregular shape and yellow color. After this, they're shown a series of slides and asked to identify what they see in each, and note the proportion of irregular cells that exist. This information gives crucial insight to researchers in determining which treatments are effective for each different type of cancer cell.


At the time this post went live, the combined force of cancer hatred on the Internet has analyzed over 1,072,203 of these cancerous images, and Cancer Research UK is convinced that a major cancer breakthrough is buried somewhere within their data. They estimate that they can condense research that normally would have taken years into only a few months.

So take a few minutes each day, let your virtual crops wait, an help kick cancer in the ass!


Love and Lightning Bugs,
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