DeepMind found the structure of almost every protein known to science

DeepMind found the structure of almost every protein known to science

DeepMind is releasing for free an expanded database of its predictions about the structure of nearly every protein known to science, the company, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, announced today.

DeepMind transformed science in 2020 with its AlphaFold AI software, which produces highly accurate predictions of the structures of proteins – information that can help scientists understand how they work, which can help treat diseases and develop drugs. It first began making AlphaFold’s predictions public last summer through a database built in collaboration with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). The first set included 98 percent of all human proteins.

Now expanding to over 200 million structures, the database “covers nearly every organism on Earth that has had its genome sequenced,” DeepMind said in a statement.

“You can think of it as covering the entire protein universe,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind, during a press briefing. “We are at the beginning of a new era now in digital biology.”

The database is growing to include over 200 million proteins.
Image: DeepMind

Protein structures from AlphaFold are already widely used by research teams around the world. They are cited in research on things like a malaria vaccine candidate and honey bee health. “We believe that AlphaFold is the most important contribution AI has made to advancing scientific knowledge to date,” Pushmeet Kohli, head of AI for science at DeepMind, said in a statement.

Alphabet continues to build on the success of AlphaFold. Alphabet launched a company called Isomorphic Labs that will aim AI tools at drug discovery, and while it’s separate from DeepMind, the two companies will work together. DeepMind also set up a laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute, where researchers can run experiments that test the information from the AI ​​system.

Having easy access to predicted protein structures gives scientists a boost in research efforts across the scientific landscape – such as those trying to understand how complex processes work in the body or which molecules can be used to target things like pollution. “With this new addition of structures illuminating nearly the entire protein universe, we can expect more biological mysteries to be solved every day,” Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said in a statement.

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