DeepMind Science Engineer Kathryn Tunyasuvunakool explains what protein folding is, why it's important, and how DeepMinds' new Artificial Intelligence system AlphaFold offers a solution to this grand scientific challenge.
These tiny molecular machines underpin every biological process in every living thing and each one has a unique 3D shape that determines how it works and what it does. But figuring out the exact structure of a protein is an expensive and often time-consuming process, meaning we only know the exact 3D structure of a tiny fraction of the 200m proteins known to science. Being able to accurately predict the shape of proteins could accelerate research in every field of biology. That could lead to important breakthroughs like finding new medicines or finding proteins and enzymes that break down industrial and plastic waste or efficiently capture carbon from the atmosphere.