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AI predicts the shape of nearly every protein known to science

  • Published
    1st Aug, 2022

An artificial intelligence lab called DeepMind has released predictions for nearly every protein known to science.

  • In 2020, DeepMind unveiled technology that could predict the shape of proteins.
  • Tool: AlphaFold
  • Relevance: If scientists can identify the shapes of proteins, they can accelerate the ability to understand diseases, create new medicines and otherwise probe the mysteries of life on Earth.
  • It will speed up research into more obscure organisms and spark a new field called metaproteomics

How it will help?

  • Proteins begin as strings of chemical compounds, then twist and fold into three-dimensional shapes that define how these molecules bind to others.
  • If scientists can pinpoint the shape of a particular protein, they can decipher how it operates.
  • This knowledge is often a vital part of the fight against illness and disease.
  • For instance, bacteria resist antibiotics by expressing certain proteins.
  • If scientists can understand how these proteins operate, they can begin to counter antibiotic resistance.
  • Previously, pinpointing the shape of a protein required extensive experimentation involving X-rays, microscopes and other tools on a lab bench.
  • Now, given the string of chemical compounds that make up a protein, AlphaFold can predict its shape.
  • The technology is not perfect. But it can predict the shape of a protein with an accuracy that rivals physical experiments about 63% of the time.
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