Unlocking the future of cancer research: innovative online game demystifies the power of cancer biobanks

Dr Nicola Miller, Co-Director Cancer Biobank and lecturer with University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. Credit – Martina Regan.
Sep 18 2023 Posted: 10:47 IST

Researchers 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 - an initiative of University of Galway and Saolta University Health Care Group, supported by the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.


The Cancer Biobank is located at University of Galway. It houses samples from patients which can be used in research to study how cancer develops and progresses and how cells respond to treatment.


The new Cancer Biobanking Game is designed as a fun, engaging and interactive way for people to better understand why the donation of samples is important. 


Throughout the game, users will learn how the process works and how research using donated, or biobanked, samples may support improvements in healthcare, helping scientists to discover new and better treatments and ways of detecting diseases earlier.


Dr Nicola Miller, Co-Director Cancer Biobank and lecturer with University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “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. 


“Patients and members of the public who participate in biobanking trust that their samples are 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. 


“The value is in the information that comes with the samples. How we communicate with patients and healthy donors can influence their understanding around informed consent to use their samples and clinical information. How we manage the information and donated samples with respect to data protection and research ethics is vital to ensuring high-quality, reproducible research. No one can do it alone – and no one should.


“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 hospital records and patient treatment plans.” 


The Cancer Biobanking Game is complimented 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. 


For more information visit or to access the game visit https://www.universityofgalway.ie/biobank/




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