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Bash the Bug

September 21, 2017

Citizen scientists help search for the best treatments for tuberculosis.



Crowd-sourcing TB’s nemesis. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Tuberculosis may seem like a bygone disease, but in the developing world, it actually claims more lives than any other infectious disease. Now, you can join the hunt for the most effective treatments against TB’s many strains through an online project called “Bash the Bug”. Oxford University biophysicist Philip Fowler says volunteers visually classify images of TB samples treated with antibiotics.

PHILIP FOWLER (Oxford University):

And what we’re asking is: can you help us work out what dosage works for that particular sample of tuberculosis? If you combine the opinions of the expert the  large number of citizen scientists, we’ll actually get a much more accurate result than we would have done otherwise.


Fowler says in just five months, volunteers have made more than 365,000 classifications. You can join the effort at I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.


Bacteria on agar.

(Chris Wood, Oxford Medical Illustration and Nicola Fawcett/CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International)