In the News
Friday, 16 November 2018 - Pharmaceutical Technology

In the News Unreal Engine: from gaming to ground-breaking cures

Drug development company C4X Discovery is using the same technology used to build the incredibly popular Fortnite video game to develop medicines in the digital world that it hopes can make an impact in the real world.

‘Pop into the labs of Manchester biotech C4X Discovery and you could be in for a surprise. Instead of scientists perched at their work stations peering down microscopes or poring over data, you might find them walking around, arms outstretched, holding what would appear to be imaginary objects.

These scientists haven’t gone mad. They’re pioneers of a new field in drug discovery that combines science with the sort of virtual reality technology typically associated with gaming. Using a headset and hand controls they’re transported into 3D chambers where they can access a database of virtual molecules to pull and twist to see how they fit together.’

As a leading innovator of research, discovery, and development in the pharmaceutical industry, C4X Discovery is on a quest to uncover and design new drugs that could have a huge impact on the healthcare world in the years to come. While the process of taking a new drug from concept to market typically moves along at a slow, methodical pace, the team at C4X has found Unreal Engine is the perfect catalyst for unlocking the path forward in faster, more immersive ways.

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Scientists in Manchester are working on a drug to kill cravings.

After spending his youth hooked on drugs and alcohol, comedian Russell Brand came to a conclusion: addiction is a disease. For him it began with overeating as a child, and by the time he reached young adulthood, Brand had moved on to crack cocaine and heroin. Today, despite being clean for 15 years, the entertainer is adamant that he is still an addict — and that it is a medical condition.

We are delighted to have won the Best Technology Award at the European Mediscience Awards. Thanks to the organisers for a great evening.

Blue skies, streaked with clouds – an unending expanse of grid to stand on – and one massive molecule: in the drug-discovering virtual world, for the first time, scientists can get up close and personal with the drugs they’re designing. Grabbing hold of a virtual molecule, floating in space before them, using two lightsaber-wielding claw-like hands, the chemist can get as close to touching the desired structure as is (meta)physically possible.

“Starting to use VR was quite transformative, because all of a sudden the molecules become part of my world and I can manipulate them in space just ahead of me, like you would do comparing two oranges and two apples,” says Thorsten Nowak, medicinal chemist at C4XD. With the VR platform, drug discovery “became as visual as it can really ever be”.

Clive Dix, chief executive of C4X Discovery Holdings plc (LON:C4XD), discusses with Proactive's Andrew Scott their licensing deal with FTSE 250-listed Indivior for its addiction behaviour suppressant, C4X3256.

It is the first major partnership for C4X, which will receive US$10mln up front and a further US$284mln dependent on how successful the drug proves.

Shares in U.K. biotech C4X Discovery almost doubled today after Reckitt Benkiser spinout Indivior agreed to a $294 million deal for a drug candidate to treat addiction.

Indivior is paying $10 million upfront for global rights to C4X3256, an orexin-1 (OX1) receptor antagonist in preclinical development that C4XD said has potential in just about any form of addiction—including tobacco, opioid analgesic and alcohol—as it targets the feeling of craving itself...