Dec 13, 2017 | By Tess

An assistant professor of chemistry at NC State has developed an open access platform that enables users to easily convert molecular objects into 3D printable and AR/VR friendly models. The software, called RealityConvert, is aimed at making drug discovery processes more accessible in terms of cost as well as more efficient.

RealityConvert was developed by Denis Fourches, an NC State professor who specializes in using computer technology to advance chemistry and molecular research. The program, which as mentioned can generate 3D models of molecular structures, has the potential to drastically simplify and improve how new drugs are discovered and developed.

That is, RealityConvert enables users to simply input their molecular structures, which include drugs and proteins, and converts them automatically into 3D models. These 3D models can then be 3D printed for a close physical analysis or can be used in augmented or virtual reality applications for immersive interactions.

Having 3D printed or AR/VR molecular models makes it easier to study the complex structures, says the researcher, which in turn makes it easier to determine how certain chemical compounds and “biological targets” interact with one another. Fourches believes his RealityConvert software can help scientists to better predict the effectiveness of a chemical compound and can “[narrow] the field of potential drug candidates for testing.”

“Large and complex biomolecules like proteins make it difficult for researchers and students to accurately visualize their structure or how they might interact with a given compound," explained Fourches. “But if we can easily build an accurate 3D model of the protein into a virtual reality or augmented reality environment, we can enable a much better perception of the geometrical and structural characteristics of that molecule.”

The software is capable of quickly and accurately converting molecular data (as pdb or sdf files) into high quality 3D models (mtl, obj, or stl files), which are compatible with 3D printing tech as well as most augmented and virtual reality platforms.

In addition to applications in drug discovery research, RealityConvert has enormous educational potential. Currently, Fourches is using the software to teach his undergraduate organic chemistry students about molecular compositions.

“The ultimate goal of RealityConvert is to facilitate and boost the development of augmented reality and virtual reality content for bioinformatics and cheminformatics applications,” Fourches added. “These technologies allow for stunning and immersive experiences, offering untapped opportunities for both research and education purposes.”

RealityConvert can be accessed either through Fourches’ Github page or via the RealityConvert website. To keep the technology as accessible as possible, Fourches has ensured that the software is open access and free to use.



Posted in 3D Software



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