AI technology that enabled a computer to defeat chess grandmasters has now been employed to help biologists in an arguably more complex task: predicting how a protein folds – a problem that has eluded them for 50 years.

Proteins are the workhorses of the cell and regulate all the ongoing chemistry and communication in living organisms. Consisting of thousands of atoms, they have a complex three-dimensional structure that is essential for performing their function. If the protein has the wrong shape, it can’t do its job. And that can cause disease or even death.

But with the assistance of DeepMind, researchers believe they can now accurately predict a protein’s shape. Marc Zimmer, a professor of chemistry at Connecticut College, explains how this could have profound implications for creating new drugs and understanding diseases as disparate as Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis.

Also today:

Bijal Trivedi

Science and Technology Editor

A simple chain of amino acids folds into a complex three-dimensional structure.

AI makes huge progress predicting how proteins fold – one of biology’s greatest challenges – promising rapid drug development

Marc Zimmer, Connecticut College

Scientists in an artificial intelligence lab have made a breakthrough in solving the problem of how proteins fold into their final three-dimensional shape. The work could speed up creation of drugs.


Arts + Culture

Politics/Election '20

Ethics + Religion


  • Will there be a monument to the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Emily Godbey, Iowa State University

    Although memorials to past pandemics are not as prolific as war memorials, they do exist. A scholar of visual culture provides a brief history of monuments around the world.

Trending on site