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On page 22, we explore computational drug design—also called structure-based design—a technology that has helped create drugs to treat HIV, arthritis, glaucoma and other diseases. At Stony Brook University in New York, Robert Rizzo is leading a research team that is quantifying and understanding molecular recognition at the atomic level. Computational methods point to the best candidates of the huge data base of drugs that must be searched, but ultimately the team must visually inspect molecules and evaluate their suitability for binding to the target protein or virus being studied. It's done with GPUs and graphics cards from NVIDIA, Santa Clara, Calif.
"With a simple PC and a video card, I can virtually step inside a complex molecule and find the best docking sites for potential drug compounds," says Rizzo.
In both cases, the scientists talk about how technology has helped remove much of the risk of human error from the work while speeding it up. Yet there are miles to go and billions of dollars to rid us of the scourge of AIDS, cancer and so many other diseases. It's a long journey and I wish them only the best.