Technology giant Microsoft has unveiled a new platform that will leverage cloud and machine learning to improve gene and cell therapy manufacturing.
Developed under the company’s Station B project, the end-to-end platform will allow scientists to efficiently and predictably engineer living cells.
Microsoft partnered with Princeton University in the US, and Oxford Biomedica and Synthace companies in the UK, to develop and test the Station B platform.
Princeton University researchers are set to pilot the platform for exploring the formation of biofilms, bacterial layers that build up on surfaces and lead to various problems, including human diseases.
The team intends to study genetic constructs in order to understand and devise methods to disrupt biofilms or improve their sensitivity to antibiotics.
Under the collaboration with gene therapy company Oxford Biomedica, Microsoft Station B platform will be used to identify genetic and environmental combinations that would facilitate more productive manufacturing processes.
This is expected to help the company in significantly lowering the costs of gene therapies, which are currently quite expensive.
Oxford Biomedica will provide large data sets for analysis through the Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud platform.
In turn, Microsoft will leverage its cloud computing and machine learning technologies to create in silico models and new algorithms to support the next generation of cell and gene delivery technology.
Oxford Biomedica chief business officer Jason Slingsby said: “The collaboration with Microsoft Research will harness our rich data resources to offer greater insights into the biological processes required to enhance quality and optimise yields of lentiviral vectors.
“Our goal is to enable faster, cheaper and more reliable manufacture of high quality next-generation cell and gene therapies to allow more patients to benefit.”
The agreement will give Synthace access to Microsoft’s machine learning, cloud infrastructure and systems biology expertise to enhance the production of new biological materials and therapeutics.