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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

AI Helps Generate Building Blocks for New Drugs

Generating New Drugs

AI Helps Biotech Labs Generate the Building Blocks for New Drugs

By Adrianna Nine on December 6, 2022 at 7:56 am Comments

Myotis daubentonii. (Credit: Generate Biomedicines)

Proteins are an essential part of life. Not only do they function as the “building blocks” for living organisms, but they also perform nearly every cellular task, from waste management to tissue repair. It tracks, then, that pharmaceuticals often contain or “target” proteins in an attempt to change or eliminate symptoms or disease within the body. There’s just one little problem: The only proteins we can use to create drugs are the ones we know.

But what if we could add new proteins to the resource pile? Two biotech labs have begun using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate novel proteins with the goal of incorporating them into medicine. Chroma, a program by Boston-based Generate Biomedicines, and RoseTTAFold Diffusion, a program out of the University of Washington’s Baker Lab, are often compared with trendy AI art generators thanks to their ability to create new concepts seemingly out of thin air. In fact, Chroma has even been referred to as “the DALL-E 2 of biology.”

AI protein generators, a type of denoising diffusion probabilistic model (DDPM), are trained to pull samples from complex datasets. They then use those samples—plus added noise—to construct a product that matches a given prompt. Although art generators are the best-known DDPMs, AI isn’t only good for producing images on demand; they’ve also been found to be an ideal method of generating diverse protein models. In a preprint on bioRxiv, Baker Labs scientists describe how RoseTTAFold can devise protein structures with virtually any desired size, shape, or function, as well as with any required constraints. ... ' 

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