Imagined Protein

Lachlan Whitehead, Marjan Hadian-Jazi, Richard Birkinshaw
Created | 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can drive cars, write articles and carry on conversations. Now researchers are using AI to solve scientific problems, such as designing proteins that don’t exist in nature but could meet specific treatment needs if they did.

The biological function of a protein is largely determined by its 3D shape. Postdoctoral researchers Marjan and Richard first teach an AI network about the properties that existing proteins of different shapes possess, then specify a list of properties they’d like a new protein to have.

Imaging specialist Lachlan’s animation represents how the AI network starts with ‘noise’ and gradually adjusts each parameter until it ‘imagines’ a protein that is likely to meet those specifications and be feasible to produce.


Music by Ella Dawson

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