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Every two years, hundreds of scientists enter a global competition to solve biological puzzles related to proteins in the human body. The outcome of the competition sometimes help streamline the way scientists create new medicines and fight disease. In 2019, DeepMind, the artificial intelligence lab owned by Google’s parent company, won this “Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction” contest.

DeepMind specializes in “deep learning,” a type of artificial intelligence that is rapidly changing drug discovery science. A growing number of companies are applying similar methods to other parts of the long, enormously complex process that produces new medicines. These A.I. techniques can speed up many aspects of drug discovery and, in some cases, perform tasks typically handled by scientists. […]

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