From super-computing to super foods DreamLab research reveals new anti-cancer findings

July 3, 2019
  • New AI driven cancer research from Imperial College London and The Vodafone Foundation published.
  • Research identifies hundreds of molecules with cancer beating properties in everyday foods like oranges, cabbage and grapes.
  • New insights into existing anti-diabetic and anti-microbial drugs and their potential role in anti-cancer therapy also discovered.
  • The research was powered by DreamLab, a crowdsourcing app that uses the processing power of mobile phones to speed up cancer research.

Two new and important pieces of cancer research have been published in a leading journal thanks to thousands of people simply plugging in their mobile phone each night and connecting to the DreamLab app whilst they sleep. The crowdsourcing app from The Vodafone Foundation uses the processing power of thousands of mobile phones to speed up important cancer research being carried out at Imperial College London.

Today, that research has resulted in two important new findings being published – firstly, the identification of hundreds of anti-cancer molecules in everyday foods including oranges, cabbages and grapes and secondly, the potential for existing anti-diabetic and anti-microbial drugs to be re-purposed to target cancer.

These findings would not have been possible without the DreamLab app, which allowed researchers at Imperial to crunch all the data required for this project in less than a year – it would have taken decades using traditional computing methods. Putting it into context, a personal computer running 24-hours a day would take 300 years to process the data required, while 100,000 smartphones running six hours a night, could do the job in three months.

The research found that carrots, celery, oranges, grapes, coriander, cabbage and dill have the highest number of different molecules with the potential to help fight cancer. Researchers used a network-based machine-learning approach to analyse the properties of over 8,000 everyday foods and identified more than 110 cancer-beating molecules. Many of these molecules are flavonoids, the huge class of compounds which help to give fruit and vegetables their colour.

Published in Nature’s ‘Scientific Reports’, the research also shows that both the anti-diabetic drug Metformin and anti-microbial drug Rosoxacin potentially have a role in anti-cancer therapy. Because these drugs have already been in therapeutic use, their approval for use as cancer therapies carries fewer risks, substantially lower costs and will involve shorter timescales than developing completely new drugs.

The breakthrough comes from Imperial’s DRUGS/DreamLab project, which pairs bespoke Artificial Intelligence technologies, mobile supercomputing and big data to analyse billions of combinations of existing drugs and/or food based molecules to identify previously unknown cancer-beating properties.

While these early-stage findings are encouraging, the researchers say further research is needed to confirm any clinical properties of the molecules. They now hope to further explore different combinations of food molecules, using AI simulations to look at the potential impact they might have on cancer.

Dr. Kirill Veselkov, Lead researcher, from Imperial’s Department of Surgery & Cancer, said, “This is a ground-breaking moment for us. The next step is to use AI technologies to explore the impact that different combinations of drugs and food-based molecules could have on individuals. We have built a team of molecular gastronomists, computer scientists, biochemical/microbiota scientists, sensory scientists, Michelin-star chefs, health economists and clinicians to advance the next phase of the project.

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel & External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, said, “We launched DreamLab in the UK just over a year ago, and in a short period of time it has made possible vital research that would have otherwise taken years. This ground-breaking project demonstrates the power of technology and how, simply by downloading the DreamLab app, you can make a real difference in preventing cancer“.

The research paper ‘HyperFoods: Machine intelligent mapping of cancer-beating molecules in foods is available online now at

You can download the DreamLab app for free now on the Apple Store or Google Play.



For more information or interview requests with Helen Lamprell, Vodafone or Kirill Veselkov, Imperial College London please contact:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Tel: 01635 693 693



Notes to editors:

About Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation’s Connecting for Good programme combines Vodafone’s charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world. Globally, the Vodafone Foundation supports projects that are focused on delivering public benefit through the use of mobile technology across the areas of health, education and disaster relief. The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity, registered charity number 10989625.

The Vodafone Foundation has launched DreamLab in the UK following a successful launch in Australia in 2015. Vodafone Foundation Australia, which was founded in 2002, is in partnership with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Hello Sunday Morning to help speed up cancer research.


Vodafone UK Media Relations
01635 693 693

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line, broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT). We employ around 11,000 people across the UK, and operate more than 400 retail stores nationwide.

Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. Today we serve over 18 million mobile and fixed line customers in the UK, with 4G network coverage at 99%. Our customers voted us the UK’s Best Mobile Network at the 2018 Trusted Reviews Awards for the second year in a row. To help deliver Gigabit UK, we are rolling out full fibre broadband across 12 towns and cities in partnership with CityFibre, reaching one million homes and business by 2021.

Our ReConnect programme is supporting women and men back into work after a career break, our IoT technology is working to create a low-carbon society, and our free Digital Parenting magazine is helping families across the UK to navigate the online world safely. For two years running, we have been named one of the UK’s 25 Best Big Companies to Work For by the Sunday Times, and a Top 100 Employer by Stonewall.

We are part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, with mobile operations in 25 countries, partnerships with mobile networks in 44 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets. As of 31 December 2018, Vodafone Group had approximately 700 million mobile customers and 21 million fixed broadband customers, including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:


Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693
Twitter: @VodafoneUKComms

Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587

Related media

DreamLab InfographicLandscape World-Cancer-Day Final

DreamLab InfographicLandscape World-Cancer-Day Final