Researchers at the University of Galway have developed a new interactive game to explain to cancer patients how they can contribute to life-saving research.
The game brings the player, or patient, on a journey through the processes involved in donating samples, the recording and confidentiality of data and the types of research supported by the Cancer Biobank which is located at the university.
It houses samples from patients which can be used in research to study how cancer develops and progresses and how cells respond to treatment.
They say the online game “demystifies the power of cancer biobanks” and helps scientists to discover new and better treatments and ways of detecting diseases earlier.
Dr Nicola Miller, co-director of Cancer Biobank and a lecturer with the University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, explained that “biobanking” was essential to continue cancer research.
“Despite improvements in survival, cancer remains a very common and complex disease, and participating in biobanking is a way to contribute to research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” Dr Miller said.
She added that members of the public, and patients, who donate samples to the biobank do so because they trust their samples will be used in “high-quality research”.
“Only through working together, sharing our expertise and communicating with patients can we provide this high-quality resource for essential research. We need – and want – patients, clinicians, and researchers to be informed, supported, and valued for their role in biobanking,” Dr Miller said.
“Taking samples is a routine part of investigating and treating many diseases, including cancer and the biobanking game describes how they can be used for future research.
All patient data is anonymised, and no data is used without the consent of the participant, including access to hospital records and patient treatment plans,” she said.
The online game is an initiative of the University of Galway and Saolta University Health Care Group, supported by the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.
The game is accompanied by several videos, available in English and Irish, which introduce the Cancer Biobank, explaining how samples and data are collected, stored and used in research and outlining consent and data protection.