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Microsoft Research Uncovering New Ways to Human Immune System Fights HIV

Microsoft ResearchHelping tackle some of the most urgent global challenges is firmly on the agenda for Microsoft Research (MSR) – applying its experience, depth and breadth of expertise, partnerships and the power of software to tackle the challenges of fighting HIV.

“More than 1.8 million people die of HIV-related causes each year — approximately 5,000 deaths per day. One of the great challenges in fighting HIV is that the virus is constantly mutating to avoid attack by the immune system.

The researchers are cataloging fragments of HIV that are vulnerable to attack by the immune system. The amount of data generated is enormous, but by using thousands of Microsoft machines working in parallel, researchers are able to make computations in a matter of hours that would take years on a single computer. Through research like this, Walker believes that a solution to the HIV epidemic can be developed. Like many other dedicated researchers, he is devoting his career to finding such a solution.”

That’s where David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson of Microsoft Research along with a Microsoft Computational Biology Tool called “PhyloD” come in. This software enables efficient data mining which then leads to specific cell analysis that helps detail virus patterns for further analysis.

PhyloD contains an algorithm, code and visualization tools to perform complex pattern recognition and analysis – enabling Heckerman and his colleagues to learn how different individual immune systems respond to the many mutations of the virus.”

“Ordinarily the computing power required to process the number of variables and possible correlations would take years, but combining the PhyloD tool with Microsoft’s high-performance computing center, this work can be done in hours. Working with two groups, one led by Christian Brander in Barcelona, and another led by Paul Goepfert at the University of Alabama, Heckerman and his team have discovered roughly six times as many possible attack points on the HIV virus as had been previously identified.”

More Info: Microsoft Research site

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