These scientists are using virtual reality to develop COVID-19 treatments

Looking at molecules in 3D arms scientists with important information that’s hard to glean from traditional 2D formats.

Last year, when Italy was under siege from COVID-19, scientists at Exscalate4Cov, a public-private consortium of 18 institutions across Europe led by Italian pharmaceutical company Dompé farmaceutici, had just begun the hunt to find a therapeutic for COVID-19. Eight scientists, all located throughout Europe, met in a virtual room to discuss potential molecules. Each scientist held up a 3-D rendering of a molecule they simulated and walked the others through it. Inside this space, scientists could together scour these molecules, pulling them apart, enlarging them, and binding them to possible compounds. They asked each other questions and on a virtual whiteboard, sketched out possibilities for success and failure in each compound. This virtual setting also allowed them to compare molecules side by side.

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