Beyond Software, Microsoft Wants to “Solve” Cancer (MSFT)

The Redmond tech conglomerate plans to “solve” cancer within 10 years through computer science.

Microsoft MSFT stem cell

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is developing its own medical facility and has vowed to “solve” cancer” the same way it resolves a computer virus: decoding the diseased cells and reprogramming each one back to a healthy state.

Although Microsoft has been focusing its energies on developing its business software, the tech conglomerate is also slowly building a presence in medical research.

In fact, Microsoft has over 150 scientists and software developers working on different projects in the company’s newly installed wet lab. The medical group is tasked to develop a “living” computer that can be programmed and reprogrammed to resolve incurable diseases such as cancer.

How? Microsoft’s scientists are using human DNA to create robots that could live within cells and analyze the body to check for faults in the bodily networks. If a cancerous cell is spotted, the robot will reboot the system and eliminate the diseased cells, hence, wiping out cancer for good. Think of these living robots as tiny doctors monitoring you from the inside to keep cancer cells from spreading to healthy organs.

Microsoft’s senior researcher Jasmin Fisher said the project is meant to interpreting biological mechanisms as programs and using computer programming languages to compare the natural processes of healthy cells with the abnormal processes of a diseased cell. They are also building a map of the internal workings of the human cell networks.

According to Microsoft’s laboratory director, Chris Bishop, the software giant’s dramatic switch to medical research is a natural progression for the company because it has “tremendous expertise in computer science” and that 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,” Bishop explained.

At the moment, Microsoft’s research team has developed a software that mimics the behavior of a healthy human cell in hopes to determine the root cause of cancer and how to cure it. The software is also being used to understand how to treat leukemia.

As for how long before Microsoft finds a cure for cancer, Andrew Philip, the head of the research, said there is no short-term cure for the disease but it is “technically” possible to solve cancer in five to 10 years as long as the molecular system has been developed to detect the disease.

While there’s no saying if Microsoft is on the brink of a breakthrough, its research group is helping pharma companies in developing various medicines.

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