How can smartphones help the fight against cancer?

Cancer Research is looking to harness the processing power of smartphones to assist research, by building up a network of 100,000 or more UK smartphones due to research progress being slowed by the lack of funding for and access to the much-needed super-computing resources.
The project has been named DRUGS (Drug Repositioning Using Grids of Smartphones) and is a collaboration between Cancer Research and the Vodafone Foundation. The project will run on Dreamlab, an application used for a similar project in Australia during 2015, that harnesses the processing power of idling smartphones to solve problems and complete research faster.

The plan is to encourage as many members of the public as they can to download the app and let their smartphones process data whilst they sleep, the only things required from the participants is that the smartphone is switched on and charged for six hours per night with access to mobile data or Wi-Fi connection. In relation to our previous GDPR blog, it is worth noting that no data will be taken from the device or any other applications.

This research is used to discover if new combinations can be made from existing drugs and tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup. The result produces medication that is effective for each patient instead of the more common ‘blanket’ methods of treatment that vary in effectiveness from person to person.

“Let’s say there are 10,000 drugs, with different combinations – that’s a trillion possibilities… if you want to crunch these possibilities, it could take over 300 years. Harnessing the power of 100,000 phones, you can do the same in two or three months… It makes great sense to try and harness this resource, particularly when a phone is sitting doing nothing overnight other than being charged for the next day’s use” – Dr Veselkov

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