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Feel-Good Drug Making

A system that lets researchers touch, feel, and prod 3-D molecular images could improve scientists’ sense of how molecules interact, aiding the development of new drugs. Texas A&M University biochemist Edgar Meyer and his colleagues Stan Swanson and Jennifer Novak are developing simulation software that will make just such a system possible. Their software calculates millisecond-by-millisecond changes in the behavior of the interacting molecules; a commercially available joystick-like interface translates that 3-D information into a tactile sense of pushing, pulling, or resistance. Because many therapeutic agents work by binding tightly with disease-causing molecules, the software could be a critical tool that allows researchers to virtually check-and modify-the fit between molecules. Meyer plans to partner with one or more pharmaceutical companies within the year.

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