AlphaFold can, among other things, accelerate solutions against Covid-19. – Isopix
Deepmind, Google’s AI division, has made a medical breakthrough. The computers have been able to find out how proteins behave in our body, which can accelerate solutions for all kinds of diseases.
The way in which proteins ‘fold’ in our body has been more or less a mystery to medical science for years. But it is an important mystery, because these proteins play an important role in how diseases develop and are therefore crucial to develop medicines and vaccines for cancer and even Covid-19, among others.
Deepmind has now developed a technique through its AlphaFold program that can determine how a certain protein behaves ‘in a matter of minutes’. A process that takes scientists years to complete. In a test with human opponents, AlphaFold seamlessly predicted two-thirds of the protein structures based on a range of amino acids, while the rest predicted only 10 percent correctly.
Scientists are already over the moon. “This is mind-boggling,” Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan told British newspaper The Independent. ‘It has been one of the biggest problems in medical science for 50 years and decades before we expected it there is a solution. This will fundamentally change biological research. ‘
Deepmind, originally from London, has been part of Google since 2014. The company may ring a bell in conjunction with the Japanese board game Go. The players of that game have to demarcate as many areas as possible by placing stones in certain places. Whoever has the most areas in the end wins the game. It has a reputation for being extremely difficult, but in 2017 the Deepmind program AlphaGo beat the world champion in the board game.
“We’re best known for our work in games, but it’s important to realize that was just a stepping stone to much bigger business,” Deepmind CEO Demis Hassabis said in an online press conference Monday. Deepmind will now further develop the program to study the behavior of proteins towards each other and towards DNA and is also conducting research on the coronavirus.