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Author Topic: Microsoft's weirdest idea ever? Altered parasites to fight disease  (Read 1792 times)

innovator

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We've seen unusual patent applications from Microsoft before, but this one takes things to a whole new level. Under the title of "Adapting Parasites to Combat Disease," it describes "systems and/or methods that facilitate sensing, detecting, logging, or treatment of a condition or need of a living body using a controlled parasite."

Microsoft isn't commenting, but it's pretty clearly an example of the broad interests (some might say loose focus) of the company's research unit, not an example of the company's actual product plans.

Filed in July 2009, the patent application reads like something out of science fiction -- proposing a system "that facilitates exploiting a parasitic organism as a nanomachine for benefit of a living body." Might be smart to put down your lunch before reading these excerpts ...

  • Electronics can be adapted to exploit novel methods of monitoring body functions and delivering useful substances to the body, including treatment of malaria and monitoring and/or treating other bodily conditions. By modifying or making a parasitic organism that can be programmatically controlled by a stimulus external to the altered parasitic organism, the parasitic organism can be a powerful tool in delivering therapeutic compounds. ...

  • (T)he altered parasitic organism is one species selected from the group comprising: mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, bed bugs (Cimicidae Cimex lectularius), midges (such as Ceratopogonidae), other blood sucking arthropods, annelids or leeches, nematodes such as Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm which typically invades the gastrointestinal tract and lungs), pinworms such as Enterobius vermicularis (gastrointestinal tract, colon, fingertips), whipworms such as Trichuris trichiuria (gastrointestinal tract), flukes or trematodes such as Fasciola hepatica, Fasciolopsis buski (intestinal fluke) and schistosomes (liver and gallbladder), tapeworms or cestodes such as those from the genus Taenia (gastrointestinal tract), hookworms, heart worms, roundworms, lice (head, body, and pubic), and the like. ...

  • In order to control the population of altered parasites (to avoid runaway breeding that can allow altered parasites to revert to their purely parasitic action), an activation and/or termination function for the altered parasite can be included. The altered parasites can be designed to mitigate harmful effects traditionally associated with the parasite (such as a mosquito capable of destroying or disabling malarial parasites therein), in order to deliver only the payloads desired. For example, a termination feature can include programmed death or reduced viability, unless a compound is delivered to the altered parasites (for example, a mosquito must ingest a certain compound every time period in order to remain alive or to reproduce). Furthermore, a termination signal can be sent by the interface component to cause death of the altered parasite, or the altered parasite can send the termination signal just before death to inform the operation component that the altered parasite is ceasing to operate.

You've trusted Microsoft to run your computer for decades, why not trust the company to put some modified parasitic organisms into your body? OK, who's ready to sign up for the clinic trial? Anyone? Hello?

Bottom line, we won't be looking for any of this on the Windows 8 feature list.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 07:22:26 AM by innovator »
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“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs (American Entrepreneur, Apple co-Founder, b.1955)
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