You can now play that Alzheimer’s-busting game on your phone

You might one day take a pill discovered by gamers

When we interviewed the brilliant people behind Stall Catchers — the Human Computation Institute’s online game for crowdsourcing a solution to Alzheimer’s disease — quite a few of you said you’d love to see it as a mobile app. Well, the universe must have been listening, because Stall Catchers the app has just been released.

It’s not available yet for iPhone folks, but Android fans (so, everyone at Gadgette for a start) can begin busting stalls immediately.

Can’t remember what stalls are? Here’s a quote from our interview with Eglė Ramanauskaitė, Citizen Science Coordinator at the Human Computation Institute:

“The game helps crowdsource promising Alzheimer’s research at Cornell University, concerned with stalls – clogged blood vessels in the brain. Stalls seem to have an important role in Alzheimer’s disease, and by learning more we could find the first ever treatment, but the analysis of these data is extremely time-consuming. We can’t wait for an Alzheimer’s cure for decades, so we’re asking everyone to help now.”

In the game, you analyse blood vessels in a live mouse’s brain. Creepy but cool.

 

Now, citizen science doesn’t have the budget or the advertising power of the big games companies, but time playing this game on the bus isn’t wasted. You’re actively contributing to a cure for something that taints countless lives — including my nan’s.

Why a game?

Analysing the amount of data required to get closer to a potential Alzheimer’s drug is a huge task that would take decades. And we don’t have decades. The original Stall Catchers web game — which has amassed more than 12,000 players — can analyse data in an hour that would take a week in the lab.

The more people who play, the faster we’ll get the research done. And the faster we do the research, the closer we bring the cure — to the point that someone playing Stall Catchers may well be contributing to the development of a drug they take themselves one day. That’s a pretty good comeback when someone tells you off for ‘wasting time on your phone.’

Brand new data

As of last week, Stall Catchers players are using a new dataset, the first to specifically examine a molecular pathway that might make a good target for a drug treatment. Coming directly from Cornell’s Schaffer-Nishimura Lab, the data could help us figure out why blood stops flowing in the brain, and what we can do about it.

Jurriaan van Rijswijk from Games For Health explains the big plan:

“Our aim is to reach 1 billion people globally within 5 years with serious games and apps in order to contribute to their happiness and wellbeing. Stall Catchers is a unique opportunity to achieve this, since fighting dementia already contributes to happiness and ultimately, if it eventually helps prevent dementia.”

The mobile app is free on Android, and while an iOS version is on the way, Apple fans who’d like to contribute to the future of science can get practising on the web version now.

We absolutely promise it’ll make you feel better than twenty minutes scrolling through Instagram would. #Blessed.

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 280 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.