Research from the EMBL-EBI European Bioinformatics Institute, using AlphaFold data, has found how bacteria interact with each other. (Source: Karen Arnott/EMBL-EBI)

Free AlphaFold Protein Database Could Revolutionize Treatments, Bring Solutions to Tough Science Problems

Last year, OpenMind released 1 million protein structures through AlphaFold, including all proteins in the human body. Recently that number has jumped to 200 million, which promises to bring exponential advances.

According to a story on MIT’s

The update includes structures for “plants, bacteria, animals, and many, many other organisms, opening up huge opportunities for AlphaFold to have impact on important issues such as sustainability, fuel, food insecurity, and neglected diseases,” Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s founder and CEO, told reporters on a call. The database allows researchers to look up 3D structures of proteins “almost as easily as doing a keyword Google search.”

From curing diseases to speeding drug development and biological understanding, the database has the potential to speed up scientific developments that could have taken decades to discover. So far, scientists have developed a malaria vaccine and learned about how proteins affect honeybees, which are essential for growing crops.

“AlphaFold is probably the most major contribution from the AI community to the scientific community,” said Jian Peng, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who specializes in computational biology.

While the database won’t contribute to understanding how protein structures are altered by mutations and natural allelic variations, tools to accurately model protein variants will likely appear soon, said Mohammed AlQuraishi, a systems biologist at Columbia University.