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AlphaFold, Similar Tools Could Help Preparations for Next Pandemic

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The rare Langya virus (shown here in a computer-generated image) is related to some deadly pathogens.

The researchers used the AlphaFold prediction tool to map the structure of a protein with which the rare Langya virus (shown above, in a computer-generated image) invades cells

Credit: Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library

Researchers increasingly are using artificial intelligence (AI) to help prepare for future pandemics.

University of Washington (UW) researchers, for instance, used the AlphaFold prediction tool to map the structure of a protein that is the foundation for a prototype vaccine against Langya henipavirus.

The researchers employed the tool to predict what Langya's G protein looked like, then used a different AI tool to identify mutations that stabilized the protein for the study.

UW's David Veesler said machine learning "enabled something that would not have been possible otherwise."

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in Norway has been tasked with developing a library of potential vaccines for viruses of concern using machine learning tools.

CEPI researchers are studying whether protein language models, a type of neural network inspired by large language models, can facilitate vaccine design.

Other research teams are leveraging AI to create vaccines based on designer proteins.

From Nature
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Abstracts Copyright © 2023 SmithBucklin, Washington, D.C., USA


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