Using virtual reality for drug discovery: a promising new outlet for novel leads

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2018 Dec;13(12):1103-1114. doi: 10.1080/17460441.2018.1546286. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


Introduction: Virtual reality (VR) environments are increasingly being used by researchers in various fields in addition to being increasingly integrated into various areas of human life, ranging from videogames to different industrial uses. VR can be used to create interactive and multimodal sensory stimuli and thus offers unique advantages over other computer-based approaches for scientific research and molecular-level applications. Consequently, VR is starting to be used in novel drug development, such as in drug discovery, and rational drug design. Areas covered: In this review, the authors discuss the basic development of VR technology, including the available hardware and software. The latest advances of VR technology in novel drug development are then detailed, and the VR programs that can be applied in relevant studies are highlighted. Expert opinion: VR will lead to a revolution in pharmaceutical development. However, there are still obstacles to the successful and extensive application of VR to drug development, including the demand for further improvements to the available hardware and software and the various limitations described with regard to accuracy and precision. As technology continues to improve, the barriers to the widespread adoption of VR will diminish and VR technologies will play an increasingly important role in novel drug development.

Keywords: ImmersivePDB; Molecular Rift; Virtual reality; accuracy and precision; drug development; scientific visualization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Software
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Virtual Reality*