Researchers use 3D printers to make models of molecules to study disease

Researchers use 3D printers to make models of molecules to study disease


What you are seeing is the printing of the
first 3-D model of a molecule’s motion over time. The 3-D printer builds models layer
by layer. Here, we see a model of a molecule that is found in many Streptococcus, or strep,
bacteria. The motion it displays is the time-lapse movement of the molecule as it goes from an
inactive state to an active state. Once a model is printed and cleaned, scientists
can study its motion to make new discoveries about how a molecule’s movement affects particular
disease processes. Then, scientists can work with doctors to improve treatment for these
diseases. Dr. William Ray and his team in The Research
Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital are the first known group to study molecular
motion using time-lapse images on their computer screens and, now, in physical models. Currently, they are using this technology
to study molecules involved in a viral infection called RSV , which could eventually transform
the treatment of patients with this common childhood illness—potentially even making
the virus totally harmless.

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