IT 大廠一向致力於想把電腦科學應用在醫療，包括 IBM 以其華生（Watson）做出多種醫療應用、蘋果（Apple）2015 年發表醫學研究開源碼工具 ResearchKit ，以及先前 Google X 之下 Google 生命科學（Google Life Science）團隊改制成的獨立子公司 Verily 等，如今微軟（Microsoft）透露它也參上一腳，於 2016 年 9 月公布數個抗癌研究計畫。
過去許多電腦科學家也都跟微軟的這個計畫一樣，覺得細胞只是一連串程式碼，說起來若以 DNA 的基本運作原理來說，的確是有種程式碼的概念於其中，可是這個程式常常複雜到遠超出電腦科學家的想像，因此過去類似的想法幾乎都遭到滑鐵盧。
不過，全球最大的獨立慈善癌症研究機構，英國癌症研究中心（Cancer Research UK），仍然對微軟的努力表示讚揚，表示這種跨多領域專長的研究嘗試，是找出癌症解藥的重要關鍵，因為癌症雖然統稱為癌，但是卻是非常複雜的無數不同癌症的總稱，總共有兩百多種不同癌症，而就算得同一種癌，每個人身上的癌症也都是獨一無二的，因此需要從很多不同的面相來研究如何對抗癌症。英國癌症研究中心希望微軟此一具備強大企圖心的研究計畫能對癌症治療發展有所幫助。
微軟的另一個抗癌研究計畫，研究者利用機器學習的技術，讓電腦整理既有的所有研究資料，協助腫瘤醫學專家從已知研究中找出最佳的治療方法。這對臨床醫師來說可說相當實用，每天全球有無數新研究發表，臨床醫師卻往往忙到無法一一閱讀，但是對電腦來說蒐集資料反而是簡單工作，可成為臨床醫師的小幫手。這個過程類似 IBM 以華生電腦所進行的醫療方面應用。
Could coders solve cancer in the same way they tackle computer science problems?
Microsoft(MSFT, Tech30) is hoping the answer is yes. The company has revealed details of its latest research on Tuesday, saying it is aiming to "solve cancer using computer science."
Researchers at Microsoft's lab in Cambridge, England, are trying to map the "code" of the disease, hoping that once they understand how the problem occurs, they'd be able to re-program cancer cells into healthy cells.
Jasmin Fisher, who is a senior researcher at the lab and also a professor at the biochemistry department at Cambridge University, said she and her colleagues are trying to think about cancer in the same way computer scientists think about computer programs.
"If you can figure out how to build these programs, and then you can debug them, it's a solved problem," she said.
Microsoft didn't say how much money it is investing into the program, but its spokesperson said around 150 people work in the research center in Cambridge. They range from computer scientists to biologists and engineers.
Cancer Research U.K., the world's largest independent cancer research charity, said this multi-disciplinary approach is key to medical progress.
"Cancer is a very complex problem as there are more than 200 different types and everybody's cancer is unique. So it's a challenge that needs many different approaches to solve it," said Justine Alford, the charity's senior science information officer.
"We hope this ambitious project will lead to discoveries that help in the battle against cancer," she said.
Microsoft revealed details of several of its cancer research initiatives on Tuesday. It said one group of researchers is using machine learning to sort through research data available to help oncologists figure out the best treatment options.
That's where machines are already making a difference. An oncologist looking after a number of patients is not able to go through all the available data to figure out the most effective, individualized cancer treatment for each of them. But a powerful computer can do that.
"We've reached the point where we are drowning in information. We can measure so much, and because we can, we do," Fisher said. "How do you take that information and turn that into knowledge? That's a different story," she added.
IBM(IBM, Tech30) Watson uses similar technology already, helping oncologists analyze patients' medical information against research data to suggest treatment options.
Microsoft is not the first big tech company to turn to medical research. Apple(AAPL, Tech30)has launched an open-source tool for creating medical studies called ResearchKit last year. It gathers medical information from Apple's giant pool of users, making it available for researchers.
Google X, Google(GOOGL, Tech30) research lab, is also working on a variety of medical research programs. They include the use of cloud computing and nanotechnologies.