Vodafone Foundation and Imperial College London are calling on the British public to extend World Cancer Day (4th February) into World Cancer Night by downloading the DreamLab app and helping to speed up cancer research.
DreamLab, developed by the Vodafone Foundation, uses a smartphone’s processing power while it lies idle overnight to analyse existing cancer research data – speeding up research by decades. Thousands of smartphones working overnight form a virtual supercomputer, allowing calculations to be crunched much faster than by regular desktop computers. The more people who use the app, the quicker the research is conducted.
Imperial College’s research programme – named Project DRUGS – aims to make better use of existing drugs and quickly find more effective combinations of drugs to improve cancer treatments. It also helps tailor combinations of drugs to individual profiles.
Imperial College scientists estimate that if 10,000 people download the app on World Cancer Day, the nation could collectively crunch 100,000 additional calculations, helping to make crucial progress in their cancer research and ultimately help save lives.
Helen Lamprell, Trustee of the Vodafone Foundation said: “DreamLab is a revolutionary project– it’s a completely different, easy and direct way that people can help cancer research. The work done so far has resulted in scientists at Imperial College making some potentially life changing progress. We need as many people as possible to download the DreamLab app on World Cancer Day so that, together, we can really make a difference.”
Dr Kirill Veselkov, Assistant Professor in Computational Medicine at Imperial College said: “Thanks to our people-powered supercomputing through DreamLab, we have completed our first project phase which has found individual drug combinations that are tailored to patient genetics. We have also identified promising drug candidates for further study.
“Now, we are ready to take the leap into the next phases where we will research effective drug or food combinations in the treatment of cancer. This is a much more complex process and requires even more computing power to crunch tens of millions of calculations – that is why we need smartphone owners to help our research by downloading and using the app each night while they sleep. What better time to start than World Cancer Day?”.
Each problem crunched on DreamLab is an AI-simulated “trial” of how effective a particular combination of existing drugs or food-based molecules is against specific network of cancer genes. Hundreds of millions of such calculations are required to come up with treatments that have a good chance of working.
Long term, the continued use of the app could prove instrumental in finding tailored treatments for patients.
Since launching in May 2018 DreamLab has been downloaded by over 73,799 people, with 5.9 million data calculations crunched to date. In just eight months, DreamLab users have delivered the same results that a desktop computer running 24 hours a day would take 50 years to do.
The DreamLab app is free to download and free to use for Vodafone customers, meaning it doesn’t eat into data allowances. The app can also be used for free via WiFi. Users on other networks can also download the app, choosing how much data they wish to donate or connecting to WiFi to use it for free.
To download the app please search for DreamLab in the App store for iOS or Play Store for Android.