How the quest for a scalable quantum computer is helping fight cancer

phys.org | 7/11/2019 | Staff
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Today, someone with breast cancer may undergo several rounds of chemotherapy and spend months in limbo before medical scans can show if that particular cocktail of toxic drugs is shrinking the tumor.

Case Western Reserve University researchers are working to change that. They have pioneered a new approach called Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting, which uses more sensitive scanning techniques that they expect could detect whether treatments are working after just one dose of chemo.

Changes - Week - Months - Mark - Griswold

"We think we can begin to see those changes within a week, as compared to six months," said Mark Griswold, Case Western Reserve professor of radiology and director of MRI research. "That's really important for both patient outcomes and quality of life, because if your chemotherapy isn't working, you just poisoned your body for nothing."

The new method has incredible promise, but designing the scans to quickly and accurately diagnose disease is a vastly challenging computational problem requiring innovative approaches. Now the Case Western Reserve researchers have found a solution to that problem—and seen dramatic improvements—using algorithms developed by Microsoft's quantum computing team.

Microsoft - Algorithms - Advantage - Quantum - Computers

Microsoft's "quantum-inspired" algorithms, designed to take advantage of future quantum computers, borrow from principles of quantum physics to solve extremely difficult computational problems. But they are also able to run on classical computers that are widely available today.

They've enabled the Case Western Reserve team to produce scans that are up to three times faster than prior state-of-the-art approaches, as well as scans that are almost 30 percent more precise in measuring a key identifier of disease.

Advances - Doctors - Cancer - Diseases - Drugs

Those advances could help doctors detect cancer and other diseases earlier, develop new drugs for conditions where progress is hard to measure today or use imaging to diagnose cancers rather than relying on invasive procedures like biopsies.

Microsoft's quantum-inspired algorithms are particularly useful for optimization problems—which involve sifting through a vast number of possibilities...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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