CloudMarch 20, 2024

Unlocking the Power of Protein Folding with OpenFold and AlphaFold2 in the Cloud

Unlock the potential of protein structure prediction with AlphaFold & OpenFold in drug discovery. Accelerating research with BIOVIA’s cloud-based solutions.
Avatar Lisa Yan
Avatar Reed Harrison
Avatar Rohith MOHAN

The ability to accurately predict protein structure is critical for understanding how proteins work, how proteins interact with other molecules, and how they can be targeted by drugs.  Until recently, accurately predicting protein structure was a challenging task, especially when there is little or no homology to known structures.  It could take months to determine a protein structure using experimental methods such as x-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and it is difficult and costly to collect the amount of material to carry out the experiments. 

Applications of AlphaFold and OpenFold for Drug Discovery

In recent years, deep learning has made significant progress in the field of protein folding. AlphaFold2, developed by DeepMind, is a deep learning-based protein structure prediction tool that has shown great promise in accurately predicting the 3D structure of proteins in a matter of minutes to hours. OpenFold, developed by the lab of Mohammed AlQuraishi at Columbia University, has a similar approach with a further optimized model inference stage. Both of these tools have the potential to revolutionize the way we study proteins and their interactions.

A growing field of research has been exploring how best to leverage models from AlphaFold and OpenFold. Recent work by Lyu et al and the Critical Assessment of Computational Hit-Finding Experiments have demonstrated that structural models from AlphaFold can be used effectively in virtual screening studies and the hit rate is very similar to when experimental structures are used. Outside of small molecule applications, AlphaFold has broad use in modeling protein-protein and protein-peptide complexes for biologic design workflows. For example, many studies have shown competitive performance of AlphaFold2 in predicting protein-protein or protein-peptide complexes, including the recent results from the 15th Community Wide Experiment on the Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction.

Overcoming the Barriers in Structure Prediction with Out-of-the-Box OpenFold and AlphaFold2 AI Models Available in Discovery Studio Simulation

We are excited to announce that Dassault Systèmes BIOVIA will offer OpenFold (for monomer structure prediction) and AlphaFold2 (for multimer structure prediction) as part of the BIOVIA Discovery Studio Simulation service on Cloud, allowing researchers, scientists, and organizations to easily access the powerful capabilities of these methods and accelerate their research. 

With our cloud offering, researchers can easily access the power of these methods without the need for expensive hardware or technical expertise. Our cloud service provides a user-friendly interface through the Discovery Studio Simulation client, easily running prediction for one or more protein sequences in batch mode.  The protocol also provides comprehensive output data and interactive plots for the analysis and assessment of the predicted structures that are familiar to many researchers.

Discovery Studio Simulation combines deep learning methods with physics-based approaches conveniently in a single application and provides easy workflows to navigate complex computational tasks. The application makes available a protocol to predict the 3D structures of target protein sequences with OpenFold or AlphaFold2. These models typically require further post-processing for downstream workflows such as docking or molecular simulation, and Discovery Studio Simulation offers multiple protocols to address this requirement including protein preparation by assigning protonation states, model refinement via energy minimization. Once a structural model is acquired, a number of physics-based protocols from Discovery Studio Simulation can be leveraged for diverse computational tasks including virtual screening via docking, sampling conformational states with enhanced sampling molecular dynamics, or studying protein formulation properties.

Predicting protein structures using AlphaFold2 and OpenFold is just the beginning for potential application of deep learning models.  Many new opportunities are opening up, facilitating potential new AI methods for protein engineering and drug development.

Get started with our OpenFold and AlphaFold2 cloud service today, let these powerful methods drive new discoveries in your research in the area of drug development, biotechnology, and beyond.

Watch the video to learn how to analyze the results of the AlpahFold2/OpenFold predictions in Discovery Studio Simulation

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