Viral Music

A woman using a mask and listening music using headphones


“Gangnam Style”, “Despacito”, “Happy”…we LOVE music that goes viral!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying…but what about a VIRUS that goes MUSICAL?

Quick treatment of viruses requires understanding them. But different viruses have different proteins and genetic information, which take time to decode. Could we speed up the process?

Chi-Yua Yu and Markus J. Buehler from MIT found a way. They created a computer program that transforms viral proteins into MUSIC! The protein’s SHAPE is translated into pitch, rhythm, and chords. One song for each virus! A library full of VIRAL music!

Similar music means similar viral proteins. Does that catchy new tune sound familiar? The program shows in SECONDS that its rhythm and pitch are similar to POLIO’S song. So the existing polio vaccine MIGHT be an effective treatment against the new virus!

Using this program, previous research could easily be used to fight new viruses. The time needed to respond and fight will be shortened.

And that makes us. . . HAPPY! Argh, now that song’s in my head again!

Reference: Yu, C.-H., & Buehler, M. J. (2020). Sonification based de novo protein design using artificial intelligence, structure prediction, and analysis using molecular modeling. APL Bioengineering, 4(1), 016108.