Meta Claims AI Will Help Big Pharma Create New Drugs

(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Meta recently introduced new AI programming technology, called ESMFold, which officials from the company say may be useful in the development of new drugs.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, also used the new technology to predict protein structures, creating a database with records of predicted structures of 617 million proteins.

According to the Post Millennial, pharmaceutical manufacturers use protein structures to treat diseases such as cancer, HIV and certain heart diseases. This technology may provide a way for researchers to uncover cures for diseases that currently have no remedy.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, also developed a similar program through a subsidiary called DeepMind Technologie. Meta claims that the competing AI, called AI AlphaFold, is more accurate than ESMFold, but the latter is quicker and produces several predictions with relatively high confidence.

“Often proteins which share similar structures have similar biological functions,” said Meta research scientist Alexander Rives. “And if you can have a really high resolution structure, then you can begin to think about what is the actual biochemical function of these proteins.”

ESMFold functions similarly to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and must be fed letters representing amino acids. From there, it can fill in blank portions and compare to proteins that already exist.

“It is a big achievement, but it relies a lot on the prior work,” said Olexandr Isayev, a computational biologist at Carnegie Mellon University.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is largely concerned with making sure that any artificial intelligence that may become sentient is not racist.

“This is the Biden–Harris administration really saying that we need to work together, not only just across government, but across all sectors, to really put equity at the center and civil rights at the center of the ways that we make and use and govern technologies,” said Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The White House recommended five principles to be built into AI in order to dampen bias.