There are five grand challenges that can be addressed with de novo protein design:
1 – Universal Vaccines
We can design a flu vaccine where 1 shot gives a lifetime of immunity from the flu. Also, we can protect against intentional acts of bio terrorism with rapid two-week development times until clinical trials.
2 – Larger Alphabet
Instead of only 20 amino acids from nature, we can design thousands of novel amino acids.
3 – Advanced Drug Delivery
We will be able to target disease cells with more precision and deliver drugs to target cells that were previously inaccessible.
4 – Smart Therapeutics
We will be able to perform calculations within the body. This will enable for example smart targeting that differentiates between subsets of the same types of immune cells.
5 – Next-Generation Materials
Silk, abalone shell, tooth, horns, and hair are all protein-based. We can approach ecological issues by mimicking or creating new types of materials.
5 to 15 Year Possibilities
Repatterning matter at the atomic scale is a major goal and is within reach with the broad mechanosynthetic capabilities of de novo protein design.
A key step to achieve this is asymmetric reactions which may be achieved with ropes and walkers to facilitate more complex reactions; or with other means of facilitating more complex reactions including surface chemistry, lego chemistry, or compartmentalized chemistry.
Other possibilities include more complex logic; with additional features such as time delays.