Sonicules: Designing Drugs with Sound

The key to the design of a new anticancer drug is the careful engineering of its 3D shape to ensure optimal docking between the drug and target-enzyme.

Together with multidisciplinary team we are investigating whether using 3D sound and visuals will allow scientists to design effective anticancer drugs quickly and more efficiently.

To effectively design of new anticancer drugs we have to target specific biomolecules by carefully engineering the 3-D shape of new drug molecule to reach the optimal docking between a drug and target-enzyme.  Currently chemists and biochemists can  ‘tune’ this energetic interaction purely with the aid of visual software.  The process is imperfect,  slow and often misses some of the principal electronic interactions. However, recent research shows that auditory display – displaying data as sound – has potential alongside visual representations to improve the efficiency and speed of this aspect of drug design.

We’ve built  a Sonicules computer game that allows the public to engage with the drug design process.  It allows people of all ages to understand more about the complexities of designing new drugs and how researchers are using 3-D sound to aid chemical engineers meet these challenges.