Are designer proteins the biggest thing since stone tools?

Could designed proteins be the biggest game changer of all time, right up there with stone tools and the Industrial Revolution? According to American scientist David Baker it might be, at least according to this interview with Nuño Domínguez of El País.

Last year Google’s Alphafold programme made an astonishing breakthrough, as long-standing readers of our little blog will recall. Suddenly it can predict the structure of all proteins as they emerge from the DNA coding template. A task that had hitherto eluded the best minds on the planet for nigh on fifty years.

David and his team will take the next step. Using their RoseTTAFold algorithm they hope to design proteins for specific jobs. Want to block your nasal receptors from attacks by the flu virus? Want to cure Crohns disease? Theoretically, they design the protein. Then back calculate to the necessary DNA sequence, which they run up and splice into a handy bacteria. After which mass production is a cinch. Baker likens it to the change in stone tool technology from random bashing to specifically designed stone tools, with all the  possibilities  which that opened up. Quite a claim!

Our thoughts? Read it for yourself. (warning, you’ll need your translator software if you don’t speak Spanish. We are always cautious about big claims, but, yeah, this one has real potential to improve our lives. If only we spent more money on things like this instead of invading each others’ countries.

#alphafold #protein #dna #rna #medicine #biotechnology

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