Looks like Microsoft is finally developing a product that will take off a little better than the Zune or Windows 8. They’ve taken over a decade of experience developing groundbreaking computer software and intend to use it to “solve” cancer. They believe that the secret lies in the ability to reprogram diseased cells, removing cancer on the fly.
This is a pretty major change of pace for a company which usually brings up operating systems and productivity software. But they’re committed to the case, vowing to have a cure ready within 10 years.
The first step towards the cure began this summer when they opened their first “wet laboratory” where they will begin experimenting with cellular technology. The lab is staffed by some of the world best and brightest biologists and computer scientists. They hope that their fusion of technology and biology will allow them to figure out the secret formula that can eradicate the world of cancer once and for all.
Among the various projects they are developing, one, in particular, stands out. Engineers are working to create a computer made from DNA. They hope that this computer could work inside of cells and perform pre-programmed experiments determining if the cells can be re-programmed internally. The first step will be to figure out a way that the computer can deactivate a cell.
Deactivating a cell would allow the computer to prevent cancer from spreading. While not a direct “cure” purse, this technology would prevent cancer from spreading and potentially prevent the disease from causing mortality.
Microsoft decided to tackle this program because they believe that cancer is simply a computational issue.
“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,” says Chris Bishop, Laboratory director.
The bio-computers would work by floating around the body and searching for cancerous cells. This would allow them to latch on, destroy the cell, and move on to the next. It’s certainly a large undertaking, as the technology is unlike anything we’ve seen before. But Microsoft believes that this project could be feasible within 10 years.
To test the feasibility of the project, engineers created a digital simulation of cell behavior. They’ve already to the system mapped out. All that is left is to figure out a way to turn this theory into reality by developing the bio-computer.
The most impressive part of this technology is that it’s not restricted to just cancer. Having tiny DNA-based computers floating around your body could cure virtually every ailment. Cancer is obviously the first step, but next, they will be able to tackle the autoimmune disease. Perhaps they may even be able to cure a common cold!
The biggest problem they need to overcome is the body’s natural ability to balance itself out. Cells divide and die as a part of regular everyday life, but when this balance is changed there can be seriously negative effects on the human body.