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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Microsoft will 'cure' cancer within 10 years by 'reprogramming' diseased cells

When you work at Microsoft, everything looks like software—even cancer and other threats to human life.
Microsoft's researchers don't talk about "curing" cancer. Instead, they are aiming to "solve" it.
The company says its eventual goal is to make cells into living computers that could someday be programmed—and even reprogrammed—to treat diseases like cancer. In the near term, it is building computer-modeling tools to assist pharma companies in drug discovery and development.
The lab is positioning itself at the intersection of machine learning,
computer-aided design, mathematics, and biology. For decades, these disciplines were relatively disparate, but that's beginning to change with the advent of such fields as bioinformatics. Microsoft's team specializes in biological modeling, a still-nascent branch of systems biology that involves using advanced computation to map the complex interactions at work inside a cell.

"The field of biology and the field of computation might seem like chalk and cheese," says Chris Bishop, head of Microsoft Research’s Cambridge-based lab, using a Britishism to convey their obvious differences. "But the complex processes that happen in cells have some similarity to those that happen in a standard desktop computer."
Dr Jasmin Fisher, senior researcher and an associate professor at Cambridge University, said: “If we are able to control and regulate cancer then it becomes like any chronic disease and then the problem is solved.”
“I think for some of the cancers five years, but definitely within a decade. Then we will probably have a century free of cancer."