US-based company Nanome has developed a virtual reality (VR) application that is helping scientists, doctors, and researchers in their study of new ways to combat COVID-19.
Through the app, the San Diego-based startup licenses its technology to scientists in their research of diseases as well as pharma companies aiming to design new drugs.
Nanome is one of the many companies that wants to manifest that VR is beneficial to scientists. The startup raised $3 million earlier this year, buoyed in part by new exigency for drug development amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Wifout VR, it is difficult to comprehend the three-dimensional of a protein," Andrey Kovalevsky, a senior R&D scientist at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory told The Information.
Kovalevsky's team is doing research on one of the many unresolved mysteries surrounding the coronavirus, which is how to terminate one of the viral proteins that would stop the virus from reproducing.
Nanome's VR app is one of the tools used by Kovalevsky. Besides his COVID research, he has also used Nanome while designing antidotes against nerve agents and pesticides.
Formed in 2015, Nanome initially started as a visualisation tool to facilitate R&D by medicinal and computational chemists and structural biologists, and has since grown as an open platform for virtual collaboration, the company said in a statement earlier.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies used Nanome's platform "to assess candidate molecules' ability to bind viral proteins in 3D," it added.
Nanome's main appeal lies in enabling scientists to scrutinise proteins and molecules as if they were the size of small buildings, which is not possible to do in ordinary labs.
With a few clicks in its VR menu, one can view a huge model of the main protease of the virus officially called SARS-CoV-2.
The protease, which is an enzyme that slashes other proteins and helps in the virus' replication, is the main subject of COVID research for scientists.
Nanome allows users to see and manipulate molecules in three dimensions, develop chemicals atom-by-atom and simulate the ways proteins move.