AlphaFold: One of the biggest contributions in Bio-Technology

As the world progresses, AI has played a crucial role in the elevation of human life. AI refers to self-processed, computer generated outcomes for humane problems, efficiently contributing to a better standard of living. Like in every other field, AI has its remarkable contributions in the field of biology enabling biologists to understand and discover bodily mechanisms and functions, making life challenges easier than ever.

One of the greatest grant of AI is the solution to “predicting protein structures”. Proteins are those bio-molecules that form the building blocks of life. Every trait and character, every process taking place inside the body of living organism is expressed by means of functioning of a protein. We can say that proteins explain the life itself.

Structurally, proteins are composed of a polypeptide chain folded in a specific manner to give specific shape consequently giving a specific function. Polypeptide chain comprises of specific sequence of amino acids that is judged by the genetic instructions in the DNA of organism. From specificity of amino acid sequence to the specificity of protein folding, protein structures are versatile with innumerable configurations, making it lethargically difficult for scientist to predict the exact shape of a protein.

Scientist have been experimentally and hypothetically predicting structure of proteins since early years of advancement by various methods of X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy both of them consuming utmost time and man-power.

This great challenge of scientific world in predicting protein structures has been solved by an AI system “AlphaFold” giving the three-dimensional shapes of protein to within the width of about an atom. This was done by giving an input data of previously known protein structures. We now have 3-D structures for virtually all (98.5%) of the human proteome.

Now why is it so essential to predict the shape of a protein?

Knowing the structures of protein has made it possible to tackle many human diseases, accelerating drug discovery, specific enzyme synthesis contributing to safeguard human health and maintaining a sustainable ecosystem.

Discovering protein structure is important to biologists and clinicians leading them to unravel the causes of genetic disorders, vaccines by production of targeted antibodies, enzymes that can break plastic-waste to combat pollution, understanding new proteins that can potentially be drug targets enabling to create protein-targeted drugs, controlling and modifying protein’s function and even designing their own proteins.

In conclusion, AlphaFold has been a revolutionary tool for providing insights and understanding biological processes. It is an open source for researchers to seek help in ever-advancing scientific discoveries. It is a milestone set in bio-technology, a trend never slowing down.

Author

Student : Aisha Iqbal

Class: CR-III

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