An AI called Alpha Fold developed by London based company Deep Mind is a computer-based program trained to predict protein shapes by recognizing patterns in structures already solved by years of tedious experimental work using electron microscopes and other methods. So far, it has predicted 400,000 protein structures including most of known human proteins.
Now you might ask: “OK, what is the big deal and why is this in your newsletter?” Well as it turns out many biologic processes work based on the shape of molecules. For instance, as the Corona virus has mutated over the past three years its 3-dimensional structure has changed dramatically. This is one reason that the original vaccines and the original nasal swab tests have become less efficient as doing their jobs; prevention and recognition.
Another example is insulin allergy. Years ago, the only available insulin for diabetics was from beef or swine. Insulin allergy was fairly common back then. But once the “human insulin” was developed (which uses a human gene transferred into test tube bacteria) it was mistakenly thought that there would no longer be insulin allergy. Beef insulin has a four amino acid difference from human insulin. Pig insulin has a three amino acid difference. But “human insulin” from tissue culture has an identical amino acid sequence; however, the 3-D structure produced by the bacteria is different than that produced by the human pancreas.
In some cases, this 3-D difference can lead to the development of allergy. The other foible that can occur is the development of anti-insulin antibodies which lead to insulin resistance. Again, the antibodies are in response to the 3-D structural difference from nascent insulin.
The efficiency and therefore the benefit of many medications is related to how well they fit into cellular receptors in the body. This too comes down to 3-D structure. Long story short, this new research has the potential to revolutionize medicine.