DeepMind, a unit of Google parent company Alphabet, today announced that the company will release a free, expanded database of its predictions for the structure of nearly every protein known to science. 2020, DeepMind has transformed science with its AlphaFold artificial intelligence software, which makes highly accurate predictions – information that can help scientists understand how they work, which can help treat diseases and develop drugs.
Last summer, DeepMind first began publicly releasing AlphaFold predictions through a database built in collaboration with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). This initial database includes 98 percent of all human proteins.
Now, the database is expanding to more than 200 million structures, “covering virtually every organism on the planet that has had its genome sequenced,” DeepMind said in a statement.
It can be thought of as covering the entire protein universe,” Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s chief executive, said in a news release. We are now at the beginning of a new era of digital biology.”
The database is growing and includes over 200 million proteins
AlphaFold’s protein structures are already being used extensively by research teams around the world. They have been cited in studies such as malaria vaccine candidates and bee health. Pushmeet Kohli, DeepMind’s head of scientific artificial intelligence, said in a statement, “We believe AlphaFold is the most significant contribution AI has made to advancing scientific knowledge to date.”
Alphabet continues to build on the success of AlphaFold with the launch of a company called Isomorphic Labs, which will use artificial intelligence tools for drug discovery, and while it is housed separately from DeepMind, the two companies will collaborate. DeepMind has also set up a lab at the Francis Crick Institute, where where researchers can conduct experiments to test information from AI systems.
The ability to easily obtain predicted protein structures has given scientists a boost to their research efforts across the sciences – such as those trying to understand how complex processes work in the body, or which molecules can be used to target things like pollution. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said in a statement, “With this new addition of structures illuminating nearly the entire protein universe, we can expect more biological mysteries to be solved every day.”