The scientific breakthrough came as a result of artificial intelligence company DeepMind’s work on 3D structures of 200 million proteins folding – one of medical science’s most pressing problems.
Artificial intelligence company DeepMind has announced a medical scientific breakthrough by determining the structures of nearly 200 million proteins.
Proteins are not two-dimensional molecules, rather they have chemical properties that are determined by their three-dimensional shape, but discovering these shapes is an intensive process.
The breakthrough has significant repercussions for medicine, with new research from Google-backed DeepMind being hailed as having “the potential to dramatically increase our understanding of biology.”
A protein is created by a chain of 3D structures of 200 million proteins and amino acids, but without knowing how these chains are connected, it is not possible to know how they interact with human cells and how they can be modified.
Last year, DeepMind, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, shared the fruits of an AI system called AlphaFold that could predict the 3D structure of a protein from its one-dimensional amino acid sequence.
A year earlier, PC gamers were asked to donate some of their computing power to an international effort investigating diseases like COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s to simulate the molecular dynamics of protein folding. It is such a crucial topic for medical science because the structure of proteins determines the chemical reactions in human cells.
The announcement of DeepMind and the freely shared database of protein structures dramatically increases the number of known protein structures from nearly a million to more than 200 million.
“We have been amazed at the speed at which 3D structures of 200 million proteins AlphaFold has already become an essential tool for hundreds of thousands of scientists in laboratories and universities around the world,” said Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of DeepMind.