Cancer Research UK: The firm assists in the fight against cancer

Breast Cancer Cell More than one in three of us will develop cancer at some point in our lives and with our ageing population, the statistics are getting worse. CRUK's long term goal is to cure cancer once and for all. This won't happen in our lifetime but we are getting closer day-by-day.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) was established in 1902 and is the only charity fighting all cancers (over 200). It has achieved a long list of firsts through its original research and is now pushing into the future – developing newer, kinder treatments, and getting closer to cures.

In one of its recent campaigns, CRUK tapped into the power of social media and crowdsourcing. The charity joined forces with Zooniverse, a community of enthusiastic ‘citizen scientists’, to create a compelling way to analyse real life cancer data online. Their Cell Slider presents real images of tumour samples to the public for analysis in the form of a simple game of snap. Users are given rules to spot which cells to analyse and once cancer cells have been spotted, users click on the nearest matching image of types of cancer cell. This information is fed back to researchers who identify trends between types of cells and a patient’s response to treatment, helping to improve the way patients are treated in future. Machines cannot match the human eye for this sort of analysis, and taking the burden away from skilled researchers allows them to focus on improving cancer care.

 Cell Slider

The website is part of a wider CRUK initiative in citizen science, which engages the public to help analyse different types of data and helps to speed up cancer research.

So where do we fit in?

CRUK needed a tech-savvy law firm to assist them with the legal issues around this new frontier. Lawyers from the firm's Technology group worked closely with CRUK on drafting and negotiating the contract between the charity and Zooniverse. Partner Simon Briskman said: "We truly value our long-standing relationship with CRUK through the firm's pro bono initiative and many of our lawyers have given their time to support CRUK over the years. It is amazing to have supported the charity on such a ground-breaking project. Like so much of CRUK's work, Citizen Science is highly innovative and we are proud to play a role supporting CRUK in its fight against cancer."

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