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Friday, February 3, 2023

David Baker, Frontiers of Knowledge Award: “We can design proteins that stop flu or cancer”


  • He is the creator of the RoseATTFold program, which has been able to predict the structure of natural proteins or design new ones.


  • Its program is used in the discovery of therapeutic targets against various diseases, including cancer.


  • “We believe that almost all drugs will be changed by the protein design revolution,” he says.

Although it may be difficult to understand for those who are not experts, the path opened by Baker is accepted. A shortcut to new vaccines and drugs, The scientist himself told about this in an interview on the occasion of the award given by the BBVA Foundation.

Question. Can you first define what RoseTTAfold is and explain its importance as a tool for biomedical research?

answer. RoseTTAfold is a computer program for predicting natural protein structures and designing entirely new proteins.

The importance is that new proteins may be better drugs, so there are many exciting new medical applications, for example, the creation of new vaccines or new drugs to treat cancer.

We have now extended RoseTTAfold to be able to generate new proteins from simple text messages, in the same way that DALL-E can generate images from simple text messages. So, for example, you can ask RoseTTAfold: design a protein that blocks this flu virus protein, or design a protein that blocks these cancer cells. RoseTTAfold manufactures those proteins. We’ve made them in the lab, and we’ve found that they have exactly the same functions.

So it opens a whole new approach to make new medicines.

Q. What are the most important biomedical advances that have already been achieved thanks to the application of this technology?

R. Well, protein engineering has already enabled the creation of new vaccines that are currently being used in people, notably a coronavirus vaccine that is being used in Korea and other parts of the world. Will go

It has created new cancer drugs that are being tested in human clinical trials, as well as a wide variety of other drugs that are in or nearing clinical trials, for example, COVID and a nasal spray for other respiratory viruses.

RoseTTAfold, by significantly speeding up and improving the design process, will lead to a whole new range of vaccines and therapies.

Q. With regard to future development of this artificial intelligence tool, what clinical applications do you think it could have?

R. We believe that the revolution in protein design will transform almost all drugs. Most of today’s drugs are made by making small modifications to proteins already present in nature.

Now that we can design entirely new proteins, we can design much more sophisticated and better drugs that can, for example, treat cancer without the side effects, in the event of a new pandemic outbreak. Can be made much quicker, and will generally be more accurate. more robust.

In addition, we believe that it will be very cheap to manufacture, thereby significantly reducing the cost of drugs.

World Nation News Desk
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