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This Vast Database Could Upend Science Research - Now, It's Free
By DAVE MCQUILLING
One of the scientific world's most extensive databases is now available for free and it could help save lives. The "AlphaFold" database contains AI-modeled predictions of the shape of almost every protein known to man — around 200 million. It also includes the entire human proteome, which is the complete set of proteins produced by the human body.
The database includes information that could be incredibly useful to scientists trying to solve some of humanity's most pressing problems, including neglected tropical diseases, which affect the lives of over a billion people worldwide. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative predicts the database could help researchers discover treatments faster than ever before.
So far, half a million researchers from 190 countries have accessed the database during the course of their work in labs and universities across the world. Some of those countries tend to be disproportionately affected by the diseases AlphaFold could help tackle, and the lack of a financial barrier could be key to assisting frontline research efforts.
The database's assembly and the models it uses are examples of artificial intelligence changing the world. There are still fears AI could become self-aware and bring about the end of humanity, but in reality, it's doing a lot of good. Research scientist John Jumper said, “This is truly a new era in structural biology, and AI-based methods are going to drive incredible progress."