DreamLab app repurposed! #JointheDreamTeam to support new coronavirus research. From today, DreamLab will refocus its efforts to speed up the discovery of anti-viral properties in existing medicines and of anti-viral food molecules to help fight COVID-19 by supporting a research project from The Imperial College of London.

To get involved, simply open the app, tap on the Projects tab in the app, and scroll down to find and select the Corona-AI project.

Head of Vodafone Foundation Australia and creator of DreamLab, Alyssa Lane, said DreamLab is providing a simple way for Aussies to help.

“Australians have faced an unprecedented set of challenges as a result of COVID-19. While most of us do our part by staying home, DreamLab offers people the power to help by simply downloading the app and joining the DreamTeam,” said Ms Lane.

Imperial College of London has a proven track record of using DreamLab to uncover insights into existing medicines for diabetes and infections and their potential to be repurposed to target cancer, as well as the identification of hundreds of anti-cancer molecules in everyday foods such as oranges, cabbages and grapes. This discovery was published in Nature Scientific Reports in 2019.

Now that very same approach will be used to help tackle Covid-19.

“The agile nature of DreamLab has enabled us to react quickly and temporarily refocus to address COVID-19 and the unprecedented set of circumstances the world is facing.”

While traditional experimental research and standard research methods could take years to develop, the mobile cloud-based processing approach of DreamLab can drastically reduce the time taken to analyse the huge amount of data that exists.

Head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer from Imperial College London, Professor George Hanna, highlighted the importance of the project: “These are unprecedented times that demand radical and unprecedented scientific solutions. The DreamLab: Corona-AI project team have taken their knowledge and success in using AI technology to discover anti-cancer properties in existing drugs and foods, and put that to use against this new global threat.”

Finding new indications or alternative uses of existing drugs (known as “drug repositioning”) is an attractive way to get around the slow and costly process of developing specific medicines to treat this infectious disease. In the current pandemic, it could potentially save thousands of lives. The human diet is rich with drug-like molecules that have been shown to play a role in both the prevention and treatment of viral diseases by interacting with drugs, or by acting as “medicines” themselves. However, the traditional practicalities involved in investigating the influence of a single drug or food component would take too long to have an impact on this crisis.

At present, the landscape of potential drug-like molecules in food is unimaginably vast. The traditional experimental methodology of investigating the influence of a single drug or food component on any particular viral infection takes months or even years.

The DreamLab: Corona-AI project takes a radically different approach to traditional testing methods. Powered by the general public, the project combines artificial intelligence and the processing power of idle smartphones to speed up the discovery of novel anti-viral components in existing medicines and help the hunt for anti-viral molecules in foods.

During this initial phase of the Corona-AI project, the researchers will test combinations of up to two molecules of existing drugs or drug-like molecules in foods against host-virus interactomes of coronavirus strains including SARS-Cov-2 – the causative agent responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. The DreamLab smartphone network of even just 100,000 users has the combined power of a supercomputer that can crunch the data from this phase in a time that otherwise would require a decade using a standard desktop computer.

The project to help support COVID-19 research will be launched by Vodafone Foundation Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Romania and UK from today, with other Vodafone markets to follow in the coming weeks.

“Over the past five years we have seen huge success with DreamLab and its support for cancer research,” said Ms Lane. “Now we’re asking Aussies to #JoinTheDreamTeam and make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our hope is that new users will then stay on and continue to use DreamLab to support important research by Garvan Institute and our other research partners to find better more personalised treatments for cancer.”

If you want to contribute to fighting COVID-19, download the DreamLab app from the App Store and Google Play Store now.

Terms and conditions

A compatible handset is required to download and use DreamLab. Downloading DreamLab will consume data. Once downloaded, DreamLab can be used when your device (i) is connected to a charging source and (ii) has mobile network or WiFi connectivity. Mobile data to use DreamLab is free for Vodafone Australia customers on the Vodafone Australia network. Roaming incurs international rates.

For the DreamLab privacy statement, please see the DreamLab Privacy page.

For the full list of end user terms and conditions please visit our DreamLab User Terms page.

By downloading, installing or otherwise using the DreamLab application on your Device, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. If you do not agree to be bound by these Terms, you should not download, install or otherwise use DreamLab Application.

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Alyssa Jones

Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa Jones,
Head of Vodafone Foundation

Alyssa works at the intersection of medicine and mobile technology. Partnering with the Garvan Institute, Hello Sunday Morning, and Baker IDI, Alyssa provides tech solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.