Discovery News, Edmonton Sun, et al. - Gamers help solve genetic diseases


Everyday video game players are succeeding at something computer technology can't quite handle: Decoding genetic diseases. Researchers at McGill University created a simple video game called Phylo, available online or on mobile platforms, that has users solve puzzles by arranging multiple sequences of coloured blocks.

Those blocks represent DNA, and when the users arrange them, what they're really doing is identifying regions of similarity in DNA sequences, which helps researchers determine the origins of genetic diseases like epilepsy. Phylo, launched last year, boasts 17,000 registered users, all of whom have helped advance scientists' understanding of the genetic basis of diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer.