HCR.20.090 – UNMASK

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 085 Every tumour is different, so how can we come to understand cancer well enough to develop a treatment for each and every type?

Approximately one in every 50 persons is diagnosed with lymphoma during his or her lifetime. For the Netherlands, this means there are approximately 4,000 new patients each year. The number is increasing, partly due to the ageing population. However lymphoma also affects young people and even children.
Fundamental research into a cure for lymphoma or any other form of cancer is progressing at a slow pace. The pace is mainly affected by a shortage of experts. Researchers from the UMC Utrecht and the UMC Groningen, the Lymph&Co Foundation, Games for Health and the Games for Health Foundation joined forces to develop Unmask. The Unmask project aims to dramatically increase the scientific workforce. We turn the scientific work into a game. A game that is easy to understand for leymen and non-scientific audiences.

By playing the game, players match actual RNA strings. We challenge them to find a strong match between micro RNA and messenger RNA. If they discover a strong match, this match is taken into the lab by our scientific community.
The game’s first demos show that players fanatically search for strong RNA matches. They understand the underlying principles after playing the game and express that they feel empowered to contribute. The current version does not yet save players’ progress. As a result, scientists cannot build upon the labour of our players.

We want to do research on:
– development and implementation of the feedback loop between player data and research
– extending the RNA matching game and platform principles to accommodate other types of cancer
– extending the platform and it’s principles to accommodate other research on lymphoma.

With this project we aim for a solution or cure for lymphoma and other forms of cancer in which both science and society can contribute.


cancer, citizens science, Lymphoma, serious gaming

Other organisations

Games for Health Foundation, Lymph&Co Foundation, UMCG


Organisation UMC Utrecht (UMCU)
Name Dr. M.L. (Marianne) Boes
E-mail M.L.Boes@umcutrect.nl