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A half-century-old science issue has been solved and will permit for dramatic changes within the combat towards diseases, researchers say.

For years, scientists and researchers have been struggling with the problem of “protein folding” - mapping the 3D shapes of the proteins which are accountable for diseases from cancer to coronavirus(Covid-19).

Tech giant  Google’s Deepmind claims to have created an artificially intelligent digital program referred to as “AlphaFold” that is ready to solve these problems in a matter of days.

If it really works, the solution has come “decades” earlier than it was expected, in response to experts, and will have transformative results in the way diseases are treated.

There are around 200 million identified proteins at present but solely a fraction has really been unfolded to completely understand what they do and how they work. Even these which were successfully understood usually depend on expensive and time-intensive techniques, with scientists spending years unfolding each structure and relying on equipment that can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars($).

DeepMind worked on the Artificial Intelligence project with the 14th Community Wide Experiment on the Critical Assessment of Methods for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP14), a gaggle of scientists who've been seeking into the matter since 1994. “Proteins are extremely complicated molecules, and their precise 3D structure is key to the many roles they perform, for example, the insulin that regulates sugar levels in our blood and the antibodies that help us fight infections,” Dr. John Moult, chair of CASP14, mentioned.

“Even tiny rearrangements of these vital molecules can have catastrophic effects on our health, so one of the most efficient ways to understand the disease and discover new remedies is to study the proteins involved.

“There are tens of 1000's of human proteins and lots of billions in other species, together with bacteria and viruses, but working out the shape of only one requires costly equipment and can take years.”


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