Microsoft to develop system to analyze biomedical data, enhance gene therapy

Microsoft partnered with Oxford Biomedica, a U.K.-based biotechnology firm, to develop an artificial intelligence- powered platform that will enhance gene therapy, according to Bloomberg.

The two-year research collaboration will focus on developing a platform that can program the biology of cells to improve gene therapy used to treat individuals with life-threatening diseases. Microsoft will use its cloud-based platform Azure and machine learning software to develop algorithms that will help enhance the purity of Oxford Biomedica's lentiviral vectors — a gene therapy technique that uses viruses to modify broken or malformed genetic sequences in cells.

Microsoft will also integrate work from its Station B project with Princeton (N.J.) University. The Station B platform was developed to improve the standard research process used for programming biological systems through AI and machine learning.

"Programming biology has the potential to solve some of the world's toughest problems in medicine, and to lay the foundations for a future bioeconomy based on sustainable technology," Microsoft Head of Biological Computation Andrew Phillips said in a news release. "We anticipate that by combining computational modelling, lab automation, machine learning and the power of the cloud, we can help [Oxford Biomedica] in their quest to make existing treatments more cost effective and in (the) future to develop groundbreaking new treatments."

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