According to Microsoft, they will be able to ‘solve’ cancer within the next decade. But how? The company has announced an ambitious plan to use computer science to resolve deadly cancers. The plan comprises of several different projects involving compute science to cure cancerous cells.
A report on Science Alert explains one of Microsoft’s projects (1), which involves generating minuscule DNA computers, which can be placed and live inside the body of a human. This DNA computer will monitor for cancerous cells and, if cancer cells do appear, reprogram them to be changed back into healthy cells as soon as they occur.
In order to achieve its bold claim to “solve the problem of cancer”, Microsoft has got together a group of the best biologists in the world, alongside top engineers and programmers, who will all work together to reach their goal of defeating cancer through computer science. The scientists are creating colossal maps of the internal operations of cells.
MS Opens Wet Laboratory
During the summer, Microsoft opened a wet laboratory, the first of its kind for Microsoft. The findings of the scientists, programmers and engineers working on the project will be tested at the wet lab.
It is also believed that the Microsoft cancer researchers are creating a computer that is made from DNA. The DNA computer could live inside human cells and monitor for errors surfacing in the body’s network, such as the onset of cancer. Similar to an inefficient computer being rebooted, if faulty cells and other anomalies were spotted, the DNA computer would, as The Telegraph words it:
Reboot the system and clear out the diseased cells” (2).
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. 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” (2).
These ‘molecular computers’ will essentially act like a doctor, spotting cancer cells quickly and destroying them before they have time to spread.
Mimicking Healthy Cells
Mircosoft claims it has already created software which mimics the behaviors of healthy cells. By replicating the behavior of a healthy cell, the DNA computer could detect an unhealthy cell and work out the problem with the cell and how it could be repaired.
Known as the Bio Model Analyzer, this software is already being utilized to give cancer researchers a better understanding on how to treat leukemia in a more effective manner.
Andrew Philips, head of the Microsoft Computer Science group involved with the research, told the Telegraph how the project was a long-term goal but how he thinks it will be “technically possible in five to 10 years’ time to put a smart molecular system that can detect disease.”
In 2012, Top Secret Writers featured a report about the possibility of the CIA and NSA infiltrating Microsoft as part of the Flame Malware investigation (3). Today, Microsoft is in the media limelight for very different reasons – for exploring the possibility of using the ingenuity of computer science to treat cancer like a computer virus help cure and prevent the deadly disease.