Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One Per Cent: 3D printing and augmented reality to help model drugs | NewScientist.com

Paul Marks, senior technology correspondent

They are the two big tech buzzwords of the moment. Now a combination of Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, research teams model biological viruses - including HIV - and attempt to work out what kind of proteins and ligand molecules can latch onto them, to see which might inhibit or disable them.

As Olsen shows in this video, 3D printing allows them to create accurate plastic models of virus segments and the potential drug molecules. With smart use of magnets they can be made to self-assemble, too. 

But for calculating which drug will likely connect with a receptor area using the least energy, augmented reality comes into play: using small webcam targets on the model virus, they can map it to a computerised model of itself so the researcher can see it move on screen.

They then get prompts as to the best orientation of an incoming drug molecule, letting them work out which is likely to be the most energetically effective attacking molecule. This can then help them design more effective drugs.

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