For biologists, identifying the precise shape of a protein often requires months, years or even decades of experimentation. It requires skill, intelligence and more than a little elbow grease. Sometimes they never succeed.
Now, an artificial intelligence lab in London has built a computer system that can do the job in a few hours — perhaps even a few minutes.
DeepMind, a lab owned by the same parent company as Google, said on Monday that its system, called AlphaFold, had solved what is known as “the protein folding problem.” Given the string of amino acids that make up a protein, the system can rapidly and reliably predict its three-dimensional shape.
This long-sought breakthrough could accelerate the ability to understand diseases, develop new medicines and unlock mysteries of the human body.
This is Google using technology, generally seen as “creepy” or “evil”, for good.