Docking Hero - Join the fight against rare cancers

Docking Hero is a citizen science project by Thera Bytes, the University Hospital Erlangen, and the University of Rostock.
We want to find a cure for rare diseases by using the power of games.

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Real scientists count on your support to cure rare cancers!

The Laboratory of Systems Tumor Immunology led by Prof. Dr. Julio Vera-González is currently searching for a cure for Uveal Melanoma, a rare cancer that forms in the eye and becomes lethal when it moves to the patients' liver.

You want to support their research? With Docking Hero, this is now easier than ever. Team up with Thera Bytes, the University Hospital Erlangen and the University of Rostock by letting our app calculate scientific data on your PC.

Why does the university need a superhero like you?

Developing a cure takes years of analyzing data and huge amounts of money. Therefore, universities concentrate their resources and computing power on more frequently occurring diseases.

We want to improve this process in two ways: By handing over calculations to you, the players, and by looking for a cure in existing drugs.

Even though Uveal Melanoma is considered a rare disease, there are estimated around 1700 new cases every year in the United States, whereby this form of cancer has a high tendency to metastasize resulting in high mortality.

Work together and get exciting rewards in Zombie Cure Lab!

You will not only get the warm and rewarding feeling of helping real scientists, but you will also receive fancy loot in the game Zombie Cure Lab.

Open the world map in-game to decide to which reward your calculations will contribute. Unlocking a reward takes a lot of computing power - so work together with the community!

I want to help! How do I get started?

Docking hero comes bundled with Zombie Cure Lab. Just start a mission, click the Citizen Science button on the bottom right and start calculating!

You want to dive deeper?

Here is our Q & A

What is Drug Repurposing?

Finding a cure often means developing a new drug. However, the approval of new drugs can require 10 to 15 years of clinical trials and can cost up to 2 billion dollars.

That's why we are looking for new areas of application for existing drugs. This process is called Drug repurposing. Since existing drugs have been approved already, it is both quicker and cheaper to bring it to patients that might be desperately waiting for a cure.

Where are the data sets coming from?

The universities combine and process data from various databases and send us datasets suitable for calculation. These calculations are quite tricky to get right, so we use the industry-proven program AutoDock Vina to crunch the numbers.

The amount of drugs and substances in databases like ZINC is staggering and there are millions of potential combinations that we want to examine. Therefore, we need a lot of time and computing power, and most importantly your support.

What exactly is the app calculating?

The app calculates how well various drugs fit to receptors in the human body. The term for this is protein-ligand docking. Imagine a key and a lock: The protein is the lock and the ligands are the keys. Only certain keys fit into the lock.

As an example, you may have heard how caffeine works in the human brain. Your body produces Adenosine to prevent your brain from being overworked. Adenosine docks to Adenosine receptors in your brain and activates them, making you tired. Caffeine is a ligand, that has a similar form to Adenosine. It is another key that fits into the same lock and it prevents Adenosine from making you tired.

How will my calculations contribute to science?

Your calculations could be the important first hint towards which drugs might fit with certain receptors. This helps to find the most promising candidates for rigorous real world testing.

Your discoveries will not only be useful for Uveal Melanoma, but they will also be helpful for researchers to understand interactions of many different drugs and the human body. As such, the calculations could help with fighting other forms of cancer or even diseases beyond cancer.

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