AI could change the drug discovery industry

A recent win by DeepMind, an AI lab owned by Google parent company Alphabet, in a protein-folding problem competition has scientists wondering how the technology can change the drug discovery industry, according to a report by The New York Times.

The protein-folding problem challenges scientists to predict the three-dimensional shape of proteins in the human body. Solving the problem could “help streamline the way scientists create new medicines and fight disease.” However, scientists have only been able to chip away at finding a solution.

For the competition, DeepMind was able analyze thousands of proteins and make predictions using neural networks. According to the report, DeepMind won the competition by a “sizable margin” and “improved the prediction accuracy nearly twice as much as experts expected from the contest winner.” Thanks to the win, some researchers are urging the life-sciences community to focus on the AI work practiced by DeepMind, the report stated.

“DeepMind’s victory showed how the future of biochemical research will increasingly be driven by machines and the people who oversee those machines,” the report stated. “This kind of AI research benefits from enormous amounts of computing power, and DeepMind can lean on the massive computer data centers that underpin Google. The lab also employs many of the world’s top AI researchers, who know how to get the most out of this hardware.”

To read the full report, click the link below.