Dr. Annette Künkele from the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, is referring to CAR T cell therapy, a breakthrough in cancer treatment and the subject of a new game recently released on Google Play and App Store by the pan-European initiative “RESTORE Health by Advanced Therapies”.
The player learns about CAR T cell therapy through the eyes of Ella, a young woman who had been diagnosed and treated for leukemia as a teenager and had a recurrence of the cancer some years later. However, after treatment with CAR T cell therapy she remains cancer free.
Ella’s life is described in 6 acts. For each act there are 10 photos that the player has to arrange in the right order. Through this interactive experience, the player learns about leukemia, its diagnosis and different treatment options available, including CAR T cell therapy. The game also includes mini-games that the player must complete to be able to move forward in the overall story.
Fabio Viola, the developer of the game explains “the main focus of the game is CAR T, but from our experience, to enhance the experience and fully engage players, the educational focus should be embedded in a close-to-reality narrative. By utilizing emotional elements, we hope that players can empathise with Ella, understand her situation and thereby the information being relayed during gameplay. To be able to deliver this, we worked together with psychologists and scientists. It was an amazing experience though which we ourselves were exposed to the fascinating world of CAR T therapies and the Advanced Therapies rabbit hole”.
A rabbit hole indeed! CAR T therapy belongs to a new class of medicines called “Advanced therapies” which consists of cell therapies, gene therapies and tissue engineering products. RESTORE, the initiative responsible for releasing the game, is dedicated to accelerate the availability of Advanced Therapies to patients and make Europe the spearhead of R&D in the field.
Gady Goldsobel, a member of RESTORE core team adds: “We see the enthusiasm in the scientific community, we see huge investments in the field of Advanced Therapies and we see how regulators and politicians are making efforts to advance the field. We even see that the public in general are aware of and interested in these new therapies. But we asked ourselves – what about the younger generation? Will we be able to get through to them? This is what we have tried to achieve here, we are very happy with the result and we will be following with excitement if and how this unique game is accepted by the target group”
Pier Maria Fornasari, previous Tissue and Cell Bank Director of Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute in Bologna, expert on advanced therapies application and now CEO of REGENHEALTHSOLUTIONS, is the scientist who came up with the idea to create a game dedicated to Advanced Therapies and joined forces with RESTORE to develop and implement this idea.
“For me it is really about communication which is both fun and scientifically accurate. Especially in field such as Advanced Therapies, where some clinics leverage on the hype in the media to sell people non-approved, sometimes dangerous products. The best way to fight this phenomena, is to raise awareness and improve communication to the public. This game is an example of what communication to the public could look like. If this allows even one person to become better informed about the field and helps them to evaluate information critically and make more informed decisions, than the game has definitely achieved one of its goals”.
“Fragments of Life” was funded by the EU within RESTORE Project under grant number 820292
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