Last week, Google’s sister company Deepmind unveiled that its AI program, AlphaFold, can precisely predict 3D atomic structures of 350,000 proteins from humans and almost complete proteomes for a variety of other organisms, ranging from mice to the malaria parasite. The company plans to target all catalogued proteins over the next few months, with researchers estimating to grow to 130 million structures by the end of the year.
The co-founder and chief executive of DeepMind, Demia Hassabis commented on the transformative discovery saying:
“This is the biggest contribution an AI system has made so far to advancing scientific knowledge.”
This exciting development has the potential to change the face of the medical industry by speeding up the discovery process of new drugs to treat diseases. AlphaFold has already aided a group led by Prof John McGeehan, a structural biologist at the University of Portsmouth, to develop faster enzymes for degrading plastic, accelerating their project by multiple years.
“It’s just the speed – the fact that it was taking us six months per structure and now it takes a couple of minutes. We couldn’t really have predicted that it would happen so fast.”
The company plans to target all catalogued proteins over the next few months, with researchers estimating to grow to 130 million structures by the end of the year.
Prof Edith Heard, from EMBL, said:
“This will be transformative for our understanding of how life works. That’s because proteins represent the fundamental building blocks from which living organisms are made.”
Source: BBC News, Nature.com
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