A cancer research team hopes to build a network of more than 100 000 UK smartphones to help process the data, while their owners sleep.
Phone owners by downloading an application and the donation of some of their wi-fi or data plan.
Handsets must be switched on and charged for six hours per night.
The objective is to form a vast network that processes data on the different combination of medications, using an algorithm built by the team.
It would take over 100 years for a desktop computer to handle the amount of data, the researchers said.
“The research on the Cancer progression is slowed down by a lack of access to supercomputers,” said Dr. Kirill Veselkov, of the faculty of medicine of Imperial College.
“It is necessary to complete the analysis – but it is limited and expensive.
“This is a great example of a citizen science project with members of the public are directly concerned.”
The project, entitled ” les Mamelles (Repositioning of Drugs Using Grids of Smartphones), is a collaboration with the Foundation Vodafone and is expected to last two years.
The Foundation Vodafone
Dr Veselkov of the team is in search of new combinations of existing drugs which can be tailored to cancer patients ‘ individual genetic. Each one is unique.
“Let’s say there are 10,000 drugs, with different combinations – it is a trillion possibilities,” said Dr Veselkov.
“If you want to bite these possibilities, it could take more than 300 years. By harnessing the power of 100 000 phones, you can do the same thing in two or three months.”
The Dreamlab application was originally developed in partnership with the Garvan Institute in Australia for a similar goal in 2015.
Another program, The World Community Grid, run by IBM, uses the computing power of volunteer devices for the research of many different diseases.
The data can be sent to the phone via wi-fi or mobile data, with a limit of 500 mb per month.
No data is taken from the device or any apps installed on it.
“People forget that the processing capacity of a modern high-end smartphone is as powerful as a computer from a few years ago,” said analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight.
“It is great sense to try and take advantage of this resource, in particular when a phone is sitting doing nothing for the night other than being charged for the next day’s use.”