A University of Missouri electrical engineering and computer science professor is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to predict a protein’s location within a cell. It could lead to scientific discoveries such as drug development or treating diseases like epilepsy.

Dong Xu told Missourinet that his localization prediction model can provide more targeted predictions, including specific models for animals, humans, and plants.

“The functions are critically related to where we have located it in the cell,” he said.

He said that some diseases are caused by mislocalization, which causes the protein to be unable to perform as it’s supposed to.

Xu created this AI model ten years ago with a biochemistry professor to study proteins in mitochondria and has spent his time, since, predicting the location of a protein to uncover biological information.

“Our model can predict what is the cause of it or whether a mutation can cause mislocalization,” said Xu.

Xu said that this AI model can provide researchers with an explanation of how some protein mutations can link to diseases.

“Then we suggest some treatment,” Xu says.

Rather than spending time and money to experiment to make a biological discovery, Xu said that a targeted approach, through his AI model, saves time and helps make discoveries faster.

His work is supported by the National Science Foundation and he hopes future funding can increase his model’s accuracy.

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