Feeds

Microsoft researchers build spam filter for HIV

Turns out spammers behave a lot like deadly virus...

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Researchers at Microsoft have discovered that tools first developed to fight email spam can be applied in helping to understand how the process by which HIV mutates to avoid attack by the immune system.

Microsoft Researchers David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson were asked to help AIDS researchers in Africa to make sense of data from HIV vaccine testing programmes. The data was compiled by a consortium of hospitals and universities, including MIT, the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV.

To their surprise they discovered that Microsoft's algorithms for the detection of spam emails were useful in understanding the mutation of HIV.

"It turns out there are a lot of similarities between the way spammers evolve their approaches to avoid filters and the way the HIV virus is constantly mutating," a post by Steve Clayton on Microsoft Research's blog explains.

To make sense of the data the researchers hit on the idea of fine-tuning a computational biology tool, called PhyloD, with algorithms used for spam filtering. PhyloD contains an algorithm, code and visualisation tools to perform complex pattern recognition and analysis. By adding lessons learned from spam filtering it was possible to more quickly narrow in on possible areas of weakness that can be targeted for later lab research into developing therapies and possible vaccines.

Instead of trying to every possible variable and possible correlations the reapplied spam filtering algorithm created the basis of a more elegant search. Even so a huge number-crunching exercise was still needed. But access to Microsoft’s high-performance computing centre made it possible to carry out this task over a single weekend.

The work led to the discovery of six times as many possible attack points on the HIV virus than had previously been identified. Similar approaches might be applied to studies on the analysis of breast cancer and other deadly diseases, the Microsoft team reckons.

The HIV analysis research is part of a wider vaccine project. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.