Reverse the Odds

Listed in: Cancer  
Reverse the Odds

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Game that utilises the principle of crowdsourcing to allow the users to help UK-based cancer researchers analyse cells.

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Countries of use

Any in which the user is familiar with English (French, German, Italian and Spanish are also used in the app).




Multiplatform team, Maverick TV; Chunk Digital; Zooniverse
(Based in United Kingdom) ; Support email:


Channel 4 Television, UK

Medical Adviser

Cancer Research UK and the Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, UK


Support to deal with symptoms/disabilities Support to deal with symptoms/disabilities
Information Information


Game that utilises the principle of crowdsourcing to allow the users to help UK-based cancer researchers analyse cells. The game can be played for a few minutes at a time, or for hours, and contains 350-plus levels of activity. Moving up levels—a challenge that becomes increasingly difficult—depends upon completing tasks of analysis (such as checking the number and colour of cancer cells, and looking for patterns within cancer cells). The more people who play the game, the more valuable the data analysis reaching the cancer researchers.

Tags: Health, Wellness & Care in the Community (HWCC)


Reviewer: Cancer Research UK
Review: “Create a magical world, save a race of adorable minions, and help our scientists analyse real cancer data—all through a puzzle game on your mobile. In ‘Reverse the Odds’, you help the ‘Odds—colourful creatures whose world is falling into decline. By completing mini puzzle games and upgrading their land, you can restore the Odds back to their lively selves. But it’s not just the Odds you’re helping. We’ve incorporated the analysis of real cancer data into the game. Our scientists have huge amounts of data, and it needs to be analysed by human beings—computers aren’t good enough at recognising the patterns required. By incorporating data analysis into Reverse the Odds, we can get thousands of players to help our scientists learn more about different cancers, including head and neck, lung, and bladder cancer. You’re analysing in the same way researchers do, but because there are a lot more of you, we can get through data much more quickly, freeing up more of our researchers’ valuable time, and unveiling clues about cancer sooner. Citizen science is all about getting as many people involved as possible, so don’t worry if you’re not always 100% sure about what cells you can see. Sometimes even researchers disagree. That’s why they have back-up mechanisms in place, and we do, too. Lots of other people will see the same pictures as you, and we have checks in place to spot wayward analysis. The images you’re seeing are magnified samples of real tumour tissue donated by former patients. By answering simple questions about this data, you’re helping our scientists to learn more about cancer, and more effectively prescribe the most appropriate treatment options for future patients.”
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Reviewer: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), USA
Review: “Cancer research is essential to answering the complex mysteries about different types of cancers and finding a cure. We depend on scientists with years of education, training, and experience to be at the forefront of cancer innovation. But what if cancer research can be supplemented by the assistance of the general public? Dr. Anne Kiltie, Clinical Group Leader at the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology within the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford and an attendee of the 2014 BCAN Bladder Cancer Think Tank, has been working on developing an engaging mobile game called “Reverse the Odds” where players can engage in critical thinking by playing a fun minion-switching puzzle, and also by analyzing real cancer slides. This pioneering project falls into a realm of research referred to as “Citizen Science”, where the public is trusted with providing the data for the scientists. … In the game Reverse the Odds, players are able to score immunohistochemistry images from real patients with bladder cancer. Immunohistochemistry refers to the process of detecting proteins in cells through the binding of antibodies to antigens in biological tissues. It is used to diagnose abnormal cell growth and to understand differences in proteins found in cancerous tumors. Many patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer have to choose whether to have their bladder removed or to have a radiation based treatment. By looking at the slides, scientists determine whether there are tumor cells in the sample, of the tumor cells how many are stained for a protein, and the intensity of the stains. The goal of the scientists is to determine whether patients that possess specific proteins in their tumors have different outcomes based on the treatment they are prescribed. Scientists have submitted slides from real bladder cancer patients into the Reverse the Odds app that can be downloaded and played by anyone. The job of the “citizen scientists” is to allow scientists to look at far more samples because they can acquire data from thousands of people. This data helps patients because it allows scientists to identify the proteins present and help them to prescribe the most appropriate treatment for future patients. In order to progress through the game, the player is asked questions about tissue images that appear on the screen. The images may contain a particular molecule (represented as a color) and how much of the molecule there is (represented by the intensity of the color). The player is also asked to count how many of a particular type of cell they see (percentage of colored cells). One of the key attributes of the project is the inherent ability of humans to recognize patterns. … The player progresses through the game and improves the world of the minion-like “Odds” by playing against an automated challenger to score points and reverse a certain number of Odds each round (shown on the right). The player analyzes at least one bladder cancer slide before each Odds-Reversing challenge and also can also analyze more slides to earn special potions and progress to further levels. The game has the potential to accelerate current research to allow scope for analysis of many more markers, cells, and molecules in existing bladder tumor samples. Reverse the Odds is also an initiative that is an excellent platform for the public to become engaged in scientific research.”
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