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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Personalized Cancer Treatment

Is this the future?   

Personalizing cancer treatment with quantum computing

Press Release / August 10, 2021

As a partner of the Fraunhofer Competence Network Quantum Computing, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is planning to use the quantum computer in Ehningen, Baden-Württemberg, to develop individually effective cancer treatment methods in the future.

Cancer patients’ medical records can often comprise up to 100 terabytes of individual — and usually very heterogeneous — data, including blood and tumor values, personal indicators, sequencing and treatment data, and much more besides. Up to now, it has been virtually impossible to use this wealth of information efficiently due to a lack of appropriate processing mechanisms. As a result, the possibility of using promising personalized treatment approaches remains purely theoretical for many cancers, and patients are still receiving standard treatments.

Now, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg is planning to use quantum computing to drive forward research in this area: “We want to explore how we can systematically process and use this heterogeneous data with the aid of a quantum computer, so that we can identify new and more targeted options for patients who do not respond so well to immunotherapies. Ultimately, we are asking which patient can benefit from which treatment and how,” says Dr. Niels Halama, Head of Department of Translational Immunotherapy at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Senior Physician at the German National Center for Tumor Diseases. Linked to this topic are some applied research questions: Which signaling cascades and biological processes play a role in the disease? How can we use these to select a treatment on an individual basis? What kinds of problems actually lend themselves to being solved by quantum computers?

From a simulator to a real quantum computer

The DKFZ team has already worked out the mathematical principles and carried out some initial work using other globally available systems and simulators. According to Halama, however, there is a huge difference between working on a simulator with perfect qubits and working on a real quantum computer such as IBM Q System One in Ehningen. It is only with the latter that you can see how stable things are at a certain level of complexity, where the pitfalls are and what is possible.  ... ' 

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