Demis Hassabis: Biologists would love to know — if you give them an amino acid sequence — they would love to know what the 3D structure of that ends up folding into because the 3D structure governs the protein’s functionality. So the problem is there’s no known theory or mapping for the 2D string of amino acid sequence to the 3D structure. So what we’d like to do is build a way of predicting the 3D structure just from the 2D amino acid sequence. And the way they do it at the moment is very laborious. You have to crystallize the protein, and then you can investigate its 3D structure, but it takes years for each protein and there’s millions of proteins. So we need to somehow speed that up.
So the goal is to figure out how proteins fold. And obviously, in Alzheimer’s, one of the hypotheses is that the amyloid beta protein is misfolding and not folding in the correct way, and they don’t know why. Something’s triggering that. So I imagine it could be helpful for that, down the line. I mean it wouldn’t directly solve Alzheimer’s, but it would be something you could use as a tool to help you speed up maybe trials for drugs for Alzheimer’s, but that would be for Alzheimer’s researchers to figure out. But we’re trying to build this sort of generic platform that many different biologists could use.