Chemists can now discover new drugs using virtual reality

Chemists can now discover new drugs using virtual reality
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pexels
13 Jun, 2018

If you think that virtual reality (VR) is only good for immersive experiences, then think again.

A UK-based drug discovery company is using its own proprietary VR tool to discover new life-enhancing drugs, a report in technology news website Wired stated.

According to the report, C4X Discovery (C4XD) has created its own VR tool 4Sight, which helps chemists see the molecular structure of the drug compounds and design new ones.

“Starting to use VR was quite transformative because all of a sudden the molecules become part of my world and I can manipulate them in space just ahead of me, like you would do comparing two oranges and two apples,” Thorsten Nowak, medicinal chemist at C4XD, was quoted telling Wired.

Chemists typically relied on two-dimensional models, such as plastic ‘ball-and-stick’ ones, but with VR, the scientists can see a molecule in much finer detail, tracks the different shapes it takes and reduces the rates of errors in the drug discovery process, the report stated, citing Nowak.

The company is creating new drugs for diseases such as cancer, chronic and respiratory conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and dementia. It has partnered with pharmaceutical company Indivior to create drugs that treat addiction, the report added.

C4XD is also working on adding sound, or molecular sonification, when creating the molecular models of the new drugs, Wired reported.

VR is being used not only in the discovery of new drugs but also in reducing motion sickness. Last month, South Korean electronics manufacturer LG and Sogang University jointly produced a new artificial intelligence engine that reduces motion sickness caused by strapping on virtual reality (VR) headsets.

A report by market intelligence firm IDC in February stated that spending on products and services related to augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR) will soar from $9.1 billion in 2017 to nearly $160 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 113.2%.