AI Can Now Model the Molecular Machines That Govern All Life

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Thanks to deep learning, the central mysteries of structural biology are falling like dominos.

Just last year, DeepMind shocked the biomedical field with AlphaFold, an algorithm that predicts protein structures with jaw-dropping accuracy. The University of Washington (UW) soon unveiled RoseTTAFold, an AI that rivaled AlphaFold in predictive ability. A few weeks later, DeepMind released a near complete catalog of all protein structures in the human body.

Together, the teams essentially solved a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology, and because proteins are at the heart of most medications, they may also have seeded a new era of drug development. For the first time, we have unprecedented insight into the protein engines of our cells, many of which had remained impervious to traditional lab techniques.

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