DreamLab and Garvan Institute let you solve cancer in your sleep

Andrew Munro 24 October 2017 NEWS

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Make your phone earn its keep.

The Garvan Institute in conjunction with Vodafone want you to become a cancer research assistant. More specifically, it wants your phone. Just download the DreamLab app, and while you sleep your phone can become part of the world's first distributed smartphone supercomputer, dedicated to solving cancer.

It's a pretty sweet gig. Your phone can set its own hours, choose its own projects and flexibly work from home as desired, all while making a very real difference.

Collectively Australia's mobile phones have the processing power of about 90 supercomputers, and right now, processing power is exactly what the Garvan Institute needs. To date, 150,000 DreamLab researchers have been sequencing genomes with their eyes closed and helped cut the time taken to solve certain problems in half.

"It’s only through medical research that we’ll be able to solve cancer, and medical research generates a vast amount of complex data and information that must be analysed in order to make the next discovery," explains Dr Samantha Oakes, Breast Cancer researcher at the Garvan Institute.

Your phone's new job description

Garvan is sequencing the DNA of cancer patients. Each individual's genome is in the ballpark of 300 gigabytes of data, which needs to be sifted through to spot differences and similarities between the DNA types of different cancers in different patients.

With enough data, the Garvan Institute hopes to start looking at cancer on an individual basis, rather than roughly lumping cancers together based on where in the body they occur. After all, it's possible that one case of stomach cancer and another case of breast cancer will be a lot more similar than two cases of breast cancer.

Your phone's job will be to help examine these cases and spot the similarities and differences between cancer diagnoses.

This will save a lot of time, money and effort on diagnoses and treatments, and let doctors cut to the chase with treatments that are more likely to be effective.


How it works

To get to work, you just need to download the app, set up your phone to charge and power up the DreamLab app.

Your phone won't need to work through a whole 300gb case file by itself; it's more of a team player. Instead, you get to choose how much data will be contributed to the project and whether it will be on your mobile or home internet plan. So if you're on an unlimited NBN or unlimited broadband plan or otherwise won't reach the data cap, it literally costs you nothing except whichever fraction of your energy bill might be for charging your phone.

  • Mobile - Choose from 50MB, 250MB or 500MB contributions per month
  • Home Wi-Fi - Choose from 500MB, 1GB or unlimited contributions per month

You can also choose which projects your phone will be working on.

  • Project Decode - Breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer
  • Project Genetic Profile - Lung, melanoma, sarcoma and brain cancer

Download the app here.


A real lifesaver

Health apps might indirectly save your life, but with DreamLab your phone could help make the medical breakthrough that ends up saving your life.

Cancer cases are rising in Australia, and at the very very end of the day, it might be the big C that gets you. This app costs nothing and might very easily save your life ten or twenty years from now. That's data well spent.

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