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Google DeepMind could speed up the search for disease-causing genes

Published Sep 19th, 2023 7:43PM EDT
A simulated strand of DNA

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Google’s AI firm DeepMind says that it could help speed up the search for disease-causing genes by using AI. DeepMind is essentially Google’s AI division, which is responsible for creating large language models and other AI tech. Now, though, the firm believes that its AI systems could help identify key mutations that lead to disease.

Further, the firm says that the development of other AI algorithms could help make detecting diseases easier, allowing for better treatment plans to be put into place. Now, obviously, what we’re already seeing with models like ChatGPT is exciting, but if Google is able to effectively create medically-based AI that helps detect and treat genetic mutations that cause diseases, AI will definitely prove its role in humanity’s future.

So far, the researchers say they believe they have pinpointed 89 percent of all the key mutations. Further development of the AI gene search system is expected to help speed up the diagnosis of diseases and also help find new ways to treat those diseases, DeepMind shared in a lengthy post discussing the advancements.

Genetic engineering and gene manipulation
DeepMind’s new system could allow us to spot mutated genetic code, allowing us to treat it faster. Image source: vchalup / Adobe

The AI gene search system that DeepMind uses here essentially checks the order of components in human DNA strands. From there, it looks for any strands that might be out of place. These are called mutations. Genetic editing has become a very hot topic, especially in recent years as we’ve seen programs like CRISPR used to create genetically modified mosquitoes.

Scientists are also using genetic editing to try to create hypoallergenic cats. Now, obviously, the goal with DeepMind is a bit bigger than that, as being able to identify mutated genetic strands and come up with stronger treatments could be life-changing for many, especially when it comes to harder-hitting diseases.

The overall efficiency of these systems remains to be seen, though. Will DeepMind allow us to make better medical treatment options for people? It’s possible. It’s even likely. However, it will be a bit before people trust AI gene search systems like DeepMind’s AlphaMissense, which can detect if DNA will produce the correct shape of genetic code.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.