Friday , 23 February 2018
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Microsoft artificial intelligence helps scientists in genetic editing

CRISPR is the name of a tool created to facilitate genetic editing treatments and has revolutionized the universe of science and medicine. Now, Microsoft also wants to contribute to the evolution of this technology.

The company has created a tool called Elevation that serves to improve the accuracy with which scientists identify the genes to be edited using CRISPR. Elevation does this using artificial intelligence algorithms.

As Gizmodo explains, although it is a revolutionary tool, CRISPR is not as accurate as you might imagine. The technology serves to make very specific changes in the DNA of a living being, but can also cause side effects.

Let’s say, for example, that a team of doctors use CRISPR to identify the gene for a rare disease and eliminate it from a patient’s DNA. It is possible that by eliminating such a gene, in addition to curing it, another function of the human body is compromised as a direct consequence of the change.

The idea of ​​Microsoft is to lessen the chances that these “leftovers” will happen. For this, the company has created a system trained in machine learning that calculates the likelihood of a genetic issue generating unwanted side effects.

It works as follows: a scientist inserts into Elevation the “programming” of the CRISPR that he intends to use at the time of performing a genetic editing. The tool then shows what the chances are that this plan will go wrong based on the genes the researcher wants to change.

To find out if a plan can work right or wrong, Elevation uses Microsoft’s own database packed with studies on the CRISPR tool and genetics, as well as publicly accessible databases with hundreds of thousands of other studies.

The Microsoft platform may also suggest changes to the programming created by the scientist or present other strategies already tested and proven by other scientists with the same goal in mind. In addition, Elevation is completely free and can be accessed here.

Microsoft had already created a tool to support researchers using CRISPR. Called Azimuth, the platform predicts what planned effects a particular CRISPR schedule can bring. This tool now works in conjunction with Elevation.

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