Millions of computer users are being invited to contribute to cancer research using a new interactive website. Cancer Research UK and scientists from Cambridge University have launched the "citizen science" project which allows members of the public to analyse real images of tumour samples.
Users are first guided through a tutorial which explains which cells to analyse and which ones to ignore. Once cancer cells have been identified by their irregular shape, users are asked to record how many have been stained yellow and how bright the colour is. They do this by clicking on another image that most closely matches the sample they are viewing. The information is fed back to researchers who look for correlations between cell types and treatment responses.
Professor Paul Pharoah, from Cambridge University, who helped develop Cell Slider, said:
Initially, the project will focus on breast cancer samples. If the pilot trial is successful, Cell Slider will be expanded to include samples with patients with other types of cancers, and colours representing other biological markers. Each image of a tumour sample will be analysed by several people to ensure that accidental clicks are discounted.