Genigma players reveal potential chromosomal abnormalities in breast cancer cell line
Thanks to the real-world data generated by Genigma players, the project’s scientific team has achieved 69% of its goal in just three months since its launch. The videogame, out on iOS and Android, is the result of a two-and-a-half-year long citizen science initiative, promoted by the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG), based in the Barcelona Science Park, which enlists players from around the world to solve puzzles and advance cancer research to solve puzzles that represent genetic sequences in the cancer cell line to advance research on this disease.
Genigma has resulted in 5,472 puzzles solved since the first #GenigmaChallenge, which was launched on January 27. Researchers will successfully complete the project after the remaining 1152 games left have been solved.
The solutions provided by players have revealed 138 regions of interest in the genome sequence of T47D, one of the most widely studied breast cancer cell line. The results indicate possible chromosomal rearrangements, information that can eventually lead to researchers finding the correct genomic sequence for the cell line. This resource, known as a genome reference map, would boost worldwide research efforts to study cancer and test new drugs to treat the disease.
“We are seeing that Genigma players are identifying a series of regions in the genome that are likely to be re-arranged in cancer cell lines compared to non-disease cells. It is now the time for researchers to carefully look at those”, explains ICREA Research Professor Marc Marti-Renom, leader of the Structural Genomics Group at the CNAG and the CRG and whose research underpins Genigma.
How Genigma will advance cancer research efforts
Researchers study cancer by growing cells under controlled conditions in the laboratory. This critical resource, commonly known as a cancer cell line, is vital for advancing our understanding of the disease.
One of the most important aspects of cancer research is understanding changes to its genome compared to healthy cells. However, the maps researchers currently use to find changes in specific regions of the genome are all based on data from healthy individuals. This means that data generated from studying cancer cell lines doesn’t always match existing reference maps. Researchers compare this exercise to navigating cities using centuries old maps. The goal of Genigma is to develop a genome reference map that is specifically created for cancer cell lines.