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A DeepMind model of a protein from the Legionnaire's disease bacteria (Casp-14)

One of biology’s biggest mysteries has been solved using artificial intelligence, experts have announced.

Predicting how a protein folds into a unique three-dimensional shape has puzzled scientists for half a century.

London-based AI lab, DeepMind, has largely cracked the problem, said the organisers of a scientific challenge.

A better understanding of protein shapes could play a pivotal role in the development of novel drugs to treat disease.

The advance by Google-owned DeepMind is expected to accelerate research into a host of illnesses, including Covid-19.

Their program determined the shape of proteins at a level of accuracy comparable to expensive and time-consuming lab methods, said independent scientists.

Dr Andriy Kryshtafovych, from University of California (UC), Davis in the US, one of the panel of scientific adjudicators, described the achievement as “truly remarkable”.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 1st, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55133972

Discussion

  1. “AlphaFold is based on a concept called deep learning. In this process, the structure of a folded protein is represented as a spatial graph. The program then “learns” using information on the 3-D shapes of known proteins held in a worldwide database.”
    What other tasks could use a “deep learning” technique to look at 3D-shapes?
  2. What sort of business or consulting service could you build off this technology?

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