Nimbus case study demonstrates power of Oculus Quest-powered virtual reality 2

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Virtual reality can save biopharmaceutical companies significant time and resources in their pursuit of new drugs, according to Nimbus Therapeutics, Oculus and Nanome

Quick read

➨ Nimbus Therapeutics, an early-stage drug discovery and development company, used Oculus Quest and Nanome’s virtual reality solution for molecular modelling to assess the AMPKβ2 enzyme, a node that’s considered a therapeutic target in metabolic diseases
➨ Nanome’s platform allows users to visualise, modify, and simulate biological and chemical compounds. It’s already being used by more than 15 of the top US-based biopharmaceutical companies
➨ This capability enables Nimbus to shorten the usual clinical drug candidate cycle and so save time and resources

The story

Oculus and US startup Nanome can help biopharmaceutical companies save tens of thousands of dollars per year and accelerate their time to market, according to a new case study on Nimbus Therapeutics.

Nimbus, an early-stage drug discovery and development company, used Oculus Quest and Nanome’s virtual reality solution for molecular modelling to assess the AMPKβ2 enzyme, a node that’s considered a therapeutic target in metabolic diseases.

The Nimbus team thought they had determined the best strategy for drug selectivity within AMPKβ2’s large macromolecular structure, but a simulation within Nanome running on Oculus Quest revealed another synthetic vector was more promising.

Lewis Whitehead, director of computational chemistry at Nimbus, told Oculus for Business, Facebook’s enterprise platform for large-scale deployments, for the case study: “Being able to inspect these structures inside VR gives us the opportunity to ask other questions, propose additional experimentation, and test our ideas to move the science forward.”

This capability enables Nimbus to shorten the usual clinical drug candidate cycle and so save time and resources.

Whitehead said: “In the AMPKβ2 example, we were able to make our compounds more active on the target. These kinds of decisions can save tens of thousands of dollars a year.”

Nanome’s platform allows users to visualise, modify, and simulate biological and chemical compounds. It’s already being used by more than 15 of the top US-based biopharmaceutical companies.

A partnership formed with Japan-headquartered multinational Fujitsu earlier this year will see Nanome’s platform licensed to pharmaceutical companies in the jurisdiction. The startup hopes to expand the partnership to chemical engineering and materials science.

Sam Hessenauer, chief technology officer at Nanome, said: “We create an immersive environment where chemists can build small molecules in the context of a protein’s binding site. It’s like being able to build a key from inside a lock.”

Oculus for Business, source of the Nimbus case study, is now officially out of beta and generally available—offering its target enterprise market a Quest-based software setup for admin-controlled multi-user experiences, a dedicated app launcher, device management, and no distracting consumer apps.

Available for $999, which includes the first year’s subscription to the Oculus for Business software and a headset, the new platform allows large numbers of headsets to be managed simultaneously, as well as their apps.

The initial roll-out over the summer included an enterprise-charged but essentially unchanged Quest. Of course, Quest 2 came out in October and the next-generation headset offers twice the CPU and GPU performance of its predecessor, a new display, and redesigned controllers. It’s also 10% lighter.

Mark Zuckerberg confirmed late last month that pre-orders for Oculus Quest 2 were five times higher than the first Oculus Quest, demonstrating significant interest in the new headset.

Market intelligence firm SuperData expects Quest 2 sales to reach three million next year, up from a prior estimate of 2.6 million.

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Main image: Nanome

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