Visualizing the structures of molecules

Dec 05, 2012
Credit: Hitoshi Goto

Hitoshi Goto and colleagues have developed high performance molecular simulation tools to study the 3D arrangement of molecules, enabling better design of medicinal and agricultural drugs which are more effective and fewer side effects.

"We've developed high performance tools and a for researchers to study the conformation—the three-dimensional structural arrangement of molecules, and this is enabling us to design medicinal and agricultural drugs that are more effective and have fewer side-effects," says Goto. The tool-set has been commercialized under the brand name CONFLEX/BARISTA, for which Goto wrote the algorithms.

He explains that CONFLEX, together with its graphical user interface BARISTA, enables researchers to visualize the possible spatial arrangements of atoms in a molecule and therefore more easily study their chemically important (energetically stable) molecular formations. This in turn can reveal how a particular arrangement or conformation influences a molecule's . For instance, HIV inhibitors can be better understood and studied with the aid of 3-D provided by the software.

Another area of Goto's research involves the development of methods to predict crystal structures in instances of molecular structures having more than one crystalline form: a phenomenon known as polymorphism.

"When a molecule can be crystallized with different packing forms, a part of the grown crystal may show unexpected physical, chemical and biological (medicinal) properties," says Goto. For instance, a second of aspirin has recently been discovered, which is slightly different to the commonly known standard structure. Goto's crystal can be used to calculate the energies bound up in such a polymorphic structure, an understanding that can help research chemists predict its medicinal effects.

CONFLEX is currently available at version 6. Goto and his lab co-workers have been working on new algorithms that will help researchers search for new crystal structures, an endeavor that normally requires the use of expensive X-ray equipment. "This function will be available in a few months in version 7 of CONFLEX," says Goto. "Developing these algorithms is very complex and time consuming. In fact, I've been working on them for over a decade, for it's involved a lot of trial and error. So I'm pleased this feature is now ready to be distributed."

Explore further: Triplet threat from the sun

Provided by Toyohashi University of Technology

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Destroying amyloid proteins with lasers

Jan 07, 2009

Researchers have found that a technique used to visualize amyloid fibers in the laboratory might have the potential to destroy them in the clinic. The technique involves zapping the fluorescently-tagged fibers with a laser, ...

Recommended for you

Triplet threat from the sun

1 hour ago

The most obvious effects of too much sun exposure are cosmetic, like wrinkled and rough skin. Some damage, however, goes deeper—ultraviolet light can damage DNA and cause proteins in the body to break down ...

Towards controlled dislocations

Oct 20, 2014

Crystallographic defects or irregularities (known as dislocations) are often found within crystalline materials. Two main types of dislocation exist: edge and screw type. However, dislocations found in real ...

Chemists tackle battery overcharge problem

Oct 17, 2014

Research from the University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry will help batteries resist overcharging, improving the safety of electronics from cell phones to airplanes.

Surface properties command attention

Oct 17, 2014

Whether working on preventing corrosion for undersea oil fields and nuclear power plants, or for producing electricity from fuel cells or oxygen from electrolyzers for travel to Mars, associate professor ...

User comments : 0