"The idea is to use crowds to get collectively better in pathologic analysis of microscopic images, which could be applicable to various telemedicine problems," said Sam Mavandadi, a postdoctoral scholar in Ozcan's research group and the study's first author.
How the game works
Before playing the game, each player is given a brief online tutorial and an explanation of what malaria-infected red blood cells typically look like using sample images.
Then the player goes through a game, in which he or she is shown multiple digital frames of red blood cell images. The player can use a "syringe" tool to "kill" infected cells one-by-one and use a "collect-all" tool to designate the remaining cells in the frame as "healthy."
Within each frame, there are a certain number of cells whose status (i.e., infected or not) is known by the game but not by the players. These control cell images allow Ozcan's team to dynamically estimate the performance of gamers as they go through each frame and also helps the team assign a score for every frame the gamer passes through.
"It could eliminate the current overuse and misuse of anti-malarial drugs, improve management of non-malaria fevers by ruling malaria out, lead to better use of existing funds, and reduce risks due to long-term side-effects of anti-malarial drugs on patients who don't need treatment," said Sam Mavandadi, a postdoctoral scholar in Ozcan's research group and the study's first author.