Virtual Reality Puts Drug Researchers Inside the Molecules They Study

The Future of Everything covers the innovation and technology transforming the way we live, work and play, with monthly issues on education, money, cities and more. This month is Health, online starting Sept. 3 and in the paper on Sept. 10.

Chemist and entrepreneur Jackie von Salm recently walked inside a receptor in the brain to inspect a new drug compound. As she looked at the brightly colored, cascading ribbons around her, she noted something: Part of the atomic structure, a series of thick, orange rods and hexagons, jutted toward her in an odd way, suggesting that the compound, a derivative of the psychedelic DMT, might be effective at treating addiction without having hallucinogenic effects.

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