AlphaFold: Why DeepMind’s protein-folding AI is transformational

Understanding proteins and their complex 3D shapes is key to understanding life, and especially for developing drugs


| Analysis

29 July 2022

3D shape of a protein

Proteins are chains of amino acids that fold up into complex 3D shapes


AlphaFold, DeepMind’s artificial intelligence that predicts the structure of proteins, is a gift to biologists.

To understand life, we need to understand proteins. Living things are molecular machines, and most of the key components are made of proteins. You are reading this article, for instance, with proteins in your retina that can detect light, various proteins that make your muscles move and so on.

In one way, proteins are simple. They are made of chains that can contain …