Cancer has been one of the leading causes of mortality around the world and a lot of efforts are put into finding ways to stop it. With that said, tech company Microsoft has announced its promise to “solve the problem of cancer” using computer science within the next decade. They plan to do that by cracking the code of affected cells so they can be reprogrammed back to its healthy state.
According to reports, the tech company is planning to treat the disease like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body’s cells. Experts working for Microsoft have said that once they are able to treat the disease, they may be able to monitor the affected cells and potentially reprogram them to be healthy again.
“I think it’s a very natural thing for Microsoft to be looking at because we have tremendous expertise in computer science and what is going on in cancer is a computational problem,” Chris Bishop from Microsoft Research told Sarah Knapton atThe Telegraph. “It’s not just an analogy, it’s a deep mathematical insight. Biology and computing are disciplines which seem like chalk and cheese but which have very deep connections on the most fundamental level.”
Science Alert reported that in order to turn their goal a reality, Microsoft, which isn’t really known for stepping out of its comfort zone, organized a team of biologists and computer scientists from around the world to work on different parts of cancer research. The details are still a little hazy, but one team plans on using machine learning and computer vision, where computers gather information from images or videos, to give radiologists a better understanding of the patient’s tumor’s progress.
Chris Bishop, laboratory director at Microsoft Research, said: “I think it’s a very natural thing for Microsoft to be looking at because we have tremendous expertise in computer science and what is going on in cancer is a computational problem.” He added saying, “It’s not just an analogy, and it’s a deep mathematical insight. Biology and computing are disciplines which seem like chalk and cheese but which have very deep connections on the most fundamental level.”
Meanwhile, independent.co.uk also reported that the biological group at Microsoft is developing molecular computers built from DNA which can act like a doctor to find cancer cells and destroy them. “It’s long term, but… I think it will be technically possible in five to 10 years time to put in a smart molecular system that can detect disease,” said Andrew Philips, head of the group.
It is also important to note that the programming and principles group has already created a software that copies a cell’s healthy behavior so it can be compared to those cells infected with the disease, so they can work out where the problem is happening and look for ways to fix it. The Bio Model Analyser software is already being used to help researchers understand how to treat leukemia more effectively.