Jackie von Salm, chief scientific officer of Psilera, a company working to turn psychedelics into treatments for addiction, neurodegenerative diseases and mood disorders, is one of many drug-discovery researchers who are using virtual reality (VR) to see molecules in new ways, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
She uses a VR headset incorporating 3-D molecular modelling software made by start-up Nanome, comprising experimental and theoretical data about molecular structures based on methods including computational chemistry and crystallography.
Her avatar can walk into and around a compound's molecular structure, exploring 360-degree views.
Glen Spraggon, director of structural biology at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, said that VR "allows us to democratise the process of structural biology and drug design, which certainly will speed up the ability to get lead molecules that we can test."
VR has been a part of Novartis' drug-discovery process for the past five years.
Novartis is in the early stages of testing an inhibitor that could block the main protease across many coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, to halt the replication of the virus, Spraggon said.
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