Quantum computer helps search for customized cancer treatment

Cancer patients often collect up to 100 terabytes of individual medical data over the course of their medical history. So far, this huge amount of information cannot be used efficiently. After all, no traditional computer has so much computing power that it would make any sense to get out of it. He. She German Cancer Research Center So (DKFZ) wants to know how this data can be systematically processed using a quantum computer. In this way, scientists want to find new therapies that are more targeted to patients for whom immunotherapies are less effective.

Dr. says. Nils Hallama, Head of the Department of Translational Immunotherapy at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Chief Medical Officer at National Center for Oncology in Heidelberg.

Associated with this are applied research questions. For example, what signaling chains and biological processes play a role in disease? How can it be used to select an individual treatment? What questions are appropriate even for quantum computers?

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Algorithms

The DKFZ team has already worked on the algorithms and gained the first experience with other simulators and systems available around the world. However, Halama argues that there is a big difference between working on a simulator with perfect qubits and on a real quantum computer like Ehningen’s IBM Q System One. “Only there you can see how stable things are at a certain degree of complexity, where there are pitfalls and what is possible.”

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The researchers now want to develop their ideas about the Ehningen system and make them concrete in an application-oriented manner. Now it comes to figuring out which algorithms are suitable for processing information, and how they can be adapted or newly developed if necessary. But also how, for example, debugging can still be improved.

data protection

When working with a quantum computer, Halama places great importance on data protection and speed. Scientists are still working with the test data. But if real patient data is used in the future, “a big plus is that Ehningen’s quantum computer operates under German data protection law and that the data remains local,” he says.

The speed of the computations, which will make quantum computing superior to traditional computer science in the future, is another important criterion. In the case of cancer patients, every day counts and quick decisions are made. Because quantum processors can process data in parallel rather than sequentially, they have the ability to analyze even large amounts of data in a fraction of the time it takes ordinary computers.

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