Virtual Reality has been used in many different settings. Although having VR as a tool that can assist in the fights against the coronavirus may appear absurd, it seems to be the case. Bristol scientists have shown a new VR technique that could help in developing a drug against the Covid-19 virus. A SARS-CoV-2 enzyme is a potential target for a new search for anti-virus treatment.
A team in Bristol has developed a 3D model structure of SARS-CoV-2 enzyme where they can through VR ‘step inside’ the molecule and see how it works in atomic detail. Thanks to this VR technique scientists found out that these viral enzymes fit drug molecules that work as the inhibitors.
Attempts To Fights Covid-19
Researchers and scientists from various fields have been continuously working on ways to fight Covid-19. In the past 8 months, we have seen incredible mobilization aimed at finding a cure to the virus that has paralyzed the entire world. This week, we were writing about both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s efforts to bring an effective vaccine to the market as soon as possible. This time, the possible Covid-19 cure comes from a different field, namely VR.
The Enzyme Is A Promising Target For Anti-Viral Treatments
As reported by the University of Bristol, A SARS-CoV-2 enzyme known as the main protease (Mpro) is a promising target in the search for new anti-viral treatments. Molecules that stop the main protease from working – called enzyme inhibitors – stop the virus reproducing, and so could be an effective drug. Thus, currently, researchers across the globe are trying to find as many of these molecules as possible.
Professor Adrian Mulholland, the main author of the study, has commented on the revelation saying “We’ve shown that interactive virtual reality can model how viral proteins and inhibitors bind to the enzyme. Researchers can use this tool to help understand how the enzyme works, and also to see how potential drugs fit into the enzyme. This should help design and test new potential drug leads. We are sharing these models with the whole community.”
Possible Applications Of VR In Covid-19 Treatment
The research showed that the possible applications of VR in Covid-19 treatment can expand way beyond that. It can be used to train the medical staff by allowing them to practice treating complex cases in an immersive and interactive way. VR also presents a great opportunity for patient education. It has also been proven that virtual reality is a useful tool in treating mental and psychological issues, and psychosomatic disorders are often spotted among COVID-19 patients. Thus, the general concept of VR and using it in the health sector is broad and far-reaching.
The limitation is its accessibility, with only 26 million VR headsets available worldwide and only a fraction of them adapted to medical research. Moreover, no countries have an abundance of personal skills and technical assistance required to utilize such technology in an effective manner. Having said that, as the number of lower-cost options increases, we can expect a surge of VR headsets that will be able to be utilized in different settings. The increasing number of studies dedicated to the possibilities of AI in the field of medicine is also likely to provide an incentive to expand the use of it.
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