In collaboration with a few researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Microsoft created a software that will allow scientists to do the most precise gene editing possible. The technology has been inspired by nature itself.
At times it feels as if the world is introduced only new technology to play with or communicate with. The truth is that advances in technology are also directed toward the survival of the human race. While a lot of life-threatening diseases are easily treatable now, there are still illnesses originating from gene defects that concern scientists. Eradicating those illnesses is one of the goals Microsoft set out to achieve when they created CRISPR and later on Elevation.
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, and is a sort of landscaping technology designed based on a virus-fighting method, but evolved to become now some tool scientists can use to redesign our genes. CRISPR can be useful in many areas from medicine to agriculture, yet scientists and biologists are focused on using it to get rid of disease, or strengthen disease-fighting cells. CRISPR in the hands of biologists is like a magic wand in the hands of a wizard.
Inspired by the DNA of bacteria and its role in fighting foreign cells in human bodies, the mechanism inside CRISPR works in a way that malign cells or parts of cells can be potentially identified and removed. Like a head hunter, a biologist using CRISPR can target the specific aspects of a gene that suggest it is infected and remove those aspects. Unfortunately, the technique is not always accurate. There are times when CRISPR attacks genes that are healthy. Some bacteria's DNA shares similarities with our genes, causing unplanned and unwanted results. And that is where Elevation and Azimuth come in.
Elevation and Azimuth, are the tools that will help CRISPR refine its gene targeting. No more off-target effects. Developed by Microsoft computer expert Jennifer Listgarden and Nicolo Fusi, and the biology expert from the Broad Institute John Doench, both technologies use a feature called machine learning to study the gene sequences and communicate to CRISPR which one is the right sequence to alter. The duo -- Azimuth and Elevation -- working as an artificial intelligence, can also predict the possible unwanted results and help CRISPR avoid altering the wrong.
The stakes are high for both scientists and the world's population: these new inventions can turn out as the breakthrough of the century or the human race could end up facing new biological threats; this time man-made. Regardless, it is important to recognize the genius behind the initiative as well as the brains that made it a reality. The next step can be to test CRISP with Azimuth and Elevation in real health cases. In case of success, the world can start fighting diseases like cancer efficiently. Read more about this after this link.
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