A group of Microsoft researchers is trying to find a cure for the HIV virus using anti-spam filters that protect email accounts from malicious email.
Microsoft researcher David Heckerman believes that spam and the HIV virus have several things in common given their constantly mutating nature. Spam keeps taking on new forms to try and evade security measures while the HIV virus also keeps evolving.
Heckerman, who designed the anti-spam feature for Microsoft's Hotmail email service, claims programmers counter spam by finding the part which can't mutate and focus their efforts on that.
He believes the HIV virus can also be fought in the same way and has been working on the problem for the past 7 years.
"We have an adversarial situation going on between spam filters trying to block spam and the spammers changing and mutating. And in the case of HIV, we have the immune system fighting the virus and HIV mutating to try to get through," said Heckerman.
The Microsoft researcher claims that all they need to do is find a part of the virus that dies after mutating and move forward from there.
"I think it is a solvable problem, but we have a lot of work left to do. But I'm working on this every day, and I'm hopeful," he said.