Virtual Reality for Drug Discovery is for Real

In 2016, the unthinkable happened. Pundits had been predicting a major shakeup was coming that would change the future. Yes, that’s right: The new wave of commercial virtual reality headsets finally hit the market, led by Oculus VR. And then not much changed after the peak year of 2016 when venture capitalists pumped $857 million into VR startups. Last year, Oculus shipped only about 350,000 headsets. For comparison, PlayStation 4 sold about 17 million units in 2018. While the gaming world has been slow to buy into the technology, VR is finding traction in enterprise applications, as well as industries such as construction. But like with other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, VR is particularly making inroads with healthcare, even for mental health. Now a handful of researchers and companies are advocating the use of virtual reality for drug discovery.

Drug development is a costly, lengthy, and difficult business. The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) said a few years back that it costs upwards of $2.6 billion to bring a new drug to market. The average time from first patent filing to product launch is about a dozen years,

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