San Diego-based startup Nanome has created a virtual reality application that can help us find new ways to fight the coronavirus. The startup uses the app to license its technology to scientists in their research of diseases and pharma companies aiming to design new drugs.
The idea is based on the premise that R&D of new molecular compounds can be costly, with development costs exceeding $10 billion per substance in some cases. The cost is this high because it’s essential to study every relevant molecule, evaluate its chemical composition and interactions and its physical structure at the atomic level.
Nanome deploys virtual reality to bring down such costs. The company is the brainchild of CEO and founder Steve McCloskey. Steve has spent a substantial amount of time at the nanoengineering program at UC San Diego and understood the need for an improved way of understanding three-dimensional molecular structures.
The startup is on a mission to manifest the benefits of its platform for scientists. It has already raised $3 million earlier this year, majorly because of a need for expedited drug development amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without VR, it is difficult to comprehend the three-dimensional of a protein,” said Andrey Kovalevsky, a senior R&D scientist at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Kovalevsky and his team are researching an unresolved mystery surrounding the coronavirus, which is how to terminate one of the viral proteins that would prevent the virus from reproducing.
Kovalevsky has deployed Nanome’s VR app not just for COVID research but also for designing antidotes against nerve agents and pesticides.
“Nanome helps scientists get on the same page quicker,” added McCloskey. He believes that his company’s platform has become more critical because researchers are forced to work remotely, limiting their access to in-lab technology and software due to the COVID-19 protocols.
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