Toronto Star - Play this video game, help research disease


It’s called Phylo, and it’s a computer game with a scientific mission: to solve the gaps in genome alignment so biologists can better understand the causes of disease. It’s the brainchild of a group of computer scientists and students at McGill University.

Last summer Phylo was born with the help of two McGill undergrads, Alex Kawrykow and Gary Roumanis, who spent the summer break building the online Flash game.

Basically, it’s like Tetris: a pattern-matching game with a genetic twist, said Jerome Waldispuhl, an associate professor in computer science at McGill, in an interview with the Star. Each puzzle solved will help map out diseases in the human genome, according to the game’s Facebook page.

“Genetic sequences are difficult to understand and so to decipher their structure, we need to compare them to detect any similar regions they may have,” the game’s website explains. “Similar regions may indicate important elements of our genetic code. We have several genomes to align, and we call this the multiple alignment problem.”