VR-enhanced molecular simulations

University of Bristol researchers, Oracle and Interactive Scientific  have used Oracle’s cloud infrastructure to combine real-time molecular simulations with VR, enabling them to “touch” molecules as they move — highlighting the potential of VR in seeing and manipulating complex 3D structures.  The technology could change how drugs are designed, and transform the teaching of chemical structures and dynamics.

The molecules can be virtually folded, knotted, plucked, and their shape changed to test how they interact.  The cloud allows several people to interact with them  in the same virtual space at the same time.

The team designed a series of molecular tasks to test on a mouse and keyboard, touchscreens and VR. This included threading a small molecule through a nanotube, changing the screw-sense of a small organic helix and tying a small string-like protein into a simple knot.  They said that in complex 3D tasks, VR gave participants up to 10 times more success.

Acocording to Bristol Professor Adrian Mulholland: “Chemists have always made models of molecules to understand their structure – from how atoms are bonded together to Watson and Crick’s famous double helix model of DNA. At one point in their education, most people have held a molecular model, probably made from plastic or metal. Models like these are particularly important for things we can’t see, such as the nanoscale world of molecules.  Thanks to this research we can now apply virtual reality to study a variety of molecular problems which are inherently dynamic, including binding drugs to its target, protein folding and chemical reactions. As simulations become faster we can now do this in real time which will change how drugs are designed and how chemical structures are taught.

Click to view University of Bristol video

Join ApplySci at the 9th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on September 24, 2018 at the MIT Media Lab.  Speakers include:  Rudy Tanzi – Mary Lou Jepsen – George ChurchRoz PicardNathan IntratorKeith JohnsonJuan EnriquezJohn MattisonRoozbeh GhaffariPoppy Crum – Phillip Alvelda Marom Bikson


Piezoelectric sensor determines antibiotic efficacy in 1 hour

Ward Johnson and NIST colleagues have developed a piezoelectric sensor to rapidly determine whether an antibiotic combats an infection. Quartz-crystal resonators, with varying vibrations, measure surface particle changes, to quickly sense mechanical fluctuations of bacterial cells and changes induced by an antibiotic.

 Results are provided in less than an hour.  Current antimicrobial tests require days to grow colonies of bacterial cells, which could result in the progression of infections before an effective treatment is identified, and lead to antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Click to view NIST video.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley on February 26-27, 2018 at Stanford University, featuring:  Vinod KhoslaJustin SanchezBrian OtisBryan JohnsonZhenan BaoNathan IntratorCarla PughJamshid Ghajar – Mark Kendall


Sanofi/Verily joint venture to fight diabetes

Big pharma + big tech/data partnerships continue to proliferate.

Onduo is a Sanofi/Verily joint venture that will use each company’s expertise to help manage diabetes  — Sanofi’s drugs  plus Verily’s software, data analysis, and devices. CEO Josh Riff and has not announced a project pipeline, as they are taking “a thoughtful approach to finding lasting solutions.”

Sutter Health and Allegheny Health Network will  be the first systems to test Onduo solutions.

ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel Nicolelis – Roozbeh Ghaffari – Unity Stoakes

Takeda’s digital transformation

Pharmaceutical giant Takeda is amid a digital transformation — with a patient-centric approach to drug development, wearable device adoption, and sophisticated data analysis.  Leading this effort is Bruno  Villetelle, Takeda’s Chief Digital Officer.  Bruno was a keynote speaker at ApplySci’s recent Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech San Francisco conference, where he discussed digital pharma companions, drawing insights from other industries, creating a culture of innovation, and partnering with entrepreneurs to develop cutting edge technology — culminating in the concept of the patient driving his/her own healthcare  — a message that was echoed throughout the event.

Click to view Bruno Villetelle, and colleague Nicole Mowad-Nassar, interviewed by StartUp Health’s Unity Stoakes at the conference.

ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel NicolelisRoozbeh GhaffariUnity Stoakes


Portable, on-demand biopharmaceutical manufacturing

Tim Lu and MIT colleagues are developing a microfluidic/programmable yeast system to produce small batches of pharmaceuticals on demand.  The project, which could deliver biologic medications, including vaccines, to remote locations, for both military and civilian use,  was funded by DARPA.

The team  cultivated  Pichia pastoris, a programmable yeast that grows densely and is able to express large amounts of protein. It was genetically modified to allow for the production of multiple medications.

The hand held bioreactor contains a microfluidic chip. Liquid laced with chemical triggers is fed into the device, and mixed with the yeast. Temperature, oxygen, and pH levels are monitored to ensure an ideal environment for protein production.

In one day,  a near single dose of biopharmaceuticals was produced. The process could then start over, with a different liquid trigger, using the same yeast, once the previous fluid has been flushed out.

The team believes that this work could one day  lead to a “small-scale, portable, and fully integrated personal biomanufacturing platform that could advance disease treatment at point-of-care.”

An earlier portable pharmaceutical system was introduced by Allan Myerson last year.

Click to view Nature paper.

Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley – February 7-8, 2017 @ Stanford University

Big data / pharma partnership to model diseases, treatments

IBM and Israeli generic drug giant Teva will partner to develop treatments for chronic conditions using the  Watson Health Cloud.

Their stated goal is “to put the best information and insights in the hands of physicians, care teams and patients, to empower treatment optimization for individuals and populations across the spectrum of acute and chronic conditions.”   Asthma, pain, migraine and neurodegenerative diseases are early targets.

The big data / pharma partnership could reduce drug misuse or increase adherence.  A joint research team will develop platforms to model diseases and potential therapeutic treatments.

Ingestible sensors alert doctors and caregivers when a pill is taken


Proteus Digital Health is creating a new category of products, services and data systems that have the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of existing pharmaceutical treatments.  Called Digital Medicines, these new pharmaceuticals will contain a tiny sensor that can communicate, via a digital health feedback system, vital information about an individual’s medication-taking behavior and how their body is responding.