By Huck Friedman
Have you ever heard of AlphaFold? One of the many programs comparable to this revolutionary AI tool is the DNA diffusion program. DNA diffusion is one of many new generative AI programs aimed at solving problems in the field of genetics. This program looks to create a model for predicting the shape and level of expression of parts of one's DNA that determine how much one gene is expressed. These regions are known as promoters. This program is also cell type specific meaning that it will tell you how a sequence may fold in a certain cell type. This folding will affect how the downstream gene of the promoter will be expressed in this cell type. This generative AI program can also generate promoters to alter the expression of a gene in a cell type. One example of a prompt for this sort of generation is “A sequence that will maximize the expression of DICER1 in kidney cells.” This technology is not only astounding by itself but also has implications to work cooperatively with other gene therapies such as CRISPR. CRISPR’s ability to find and alter sequences in our genome could potentially allow us to change the promoters for genes of interest in patients suffering from genetic disorders and cancer. One limitation of CRISPR that is offset by its potential use in tandem with DNA diffusion AI is the fact that the genes that are altered in the patient will immediately influence the cells they are in without the need for replication of the cell as these altered promoters will immediately begin attracting transcription factors that express the gene in a different manner. This is just one example of the implications of DNA diffusion AI. In the future, DNA diffusion AI will hopefully be just one of the tools that will allow us to enter a world of personalized medicine. Dealing with complex genetic diseases truly requires a personalized approach as a disease may arise and affect a patient in a novel manner. The personalization and widespread application of the DNA diffusion AI are the reasons for its merit in the quickly growing intersection of AI and genetics.