Gamers have been given a unique opportunity to help scientists in the battle against cancer, thanks to a collaboration between Dundee-based software developer Guerilla Tea and Cancer Research UK.

The game - a free download on both iOS and Android - is called Play to Cure: Genes in Space and tasks the player with planning a route and then guiding a nifty-looking spaceship along an intergalactic track made from Element Alpha. Back on Earth, this fictional substance - which is actually Cancer Research UK's gene data - can then be analysed by scientists to find genetic faults, which will ultimately help scientists to develop new cancer treatments.

It's an exciting development and one which brings to mind Sony's Folding at Home project on PS3, where people were encouraged to use their games console to run biomedical calculations in an effort to aid research into diseases.

The game itself is simple but encourages players to keep playing thanks to a range of incentives. Collected Element Alpha can be traded for credits, which can be used to upgrade your ship. Experience points are also dished out which are used to level up and unlock new stuff.

Hannah Keartland, citizen science lead for Cancer Research UK, said: "Every single second gamers spend directly helps our work to bring forward the day all cancers are cured. Our scientists' research produces colossal amounts of data, some of which can only be analysed by the human eye - a process which can take years.

"We hope thousands of people worldwide will play Play to Cure: Genes in Space as often as possible, to help our researchers get through this data. We urge people to give five minutes of their time wherever and whenever they can - whether they're waiting for their bus to arrive or they're in the hairdressers having a blow dry. Together, our free moments will help us beat cancer sooner."

Well done to both Guerilla Tea and Cancer Research UK for getting their heads together and producing this ground-breaking game.

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