UW’s Baker Lab researchers make AI strides in drug-like peptides

In recent years, artificial intelligence programs for drug design have steadily shown they can help explore far beyond just small-molecule drugs—by illuminating how proteins fold and interact, all the way up to large antibodies. Get ready to add another category to the list.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design have put forward a paper showing its AI algorithms can help create millions of never-before-seen drug-like peptides—chains of amino acids that are much smaller than your typical protein, but still capable of delivering potent effects within the human body. 

Peptides have formed the basis of dozens of drugs and treatments—including insulin, for example—and serve as the “P” in the hormone GLP-1, the target of today’s blockbusters Ozempic and Wegovy.

According to researchers in UW’s Baker Lab, their AI programs were able to construct ring-shaped peptides known as macrocycles—a group they say has the potential to cross…
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