Quantum-inspired power could brighten drug discovery

[agsandrew/Adobe Stock]

In the realm of drug discovery, the Harvard-educated chemist Nick Paras, Ph.D. compares the early stages of identifying new compounds to a game of Zelda, in which a player at times must navigate through dark rooms and solve puzzles to progress. Similarly, medicinal chemists and biochemists too must traverse the vast, often obscure landscape of cellular assays and biochemical screens in pursuit of potential treatments.

“You’re in a dark room, fumbling around for the light switch,” said Paras, a professor at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He suggests that the early stages of drug discovery can, in some ways, mirror the experience of navigating the dark, puzzling dungeons of a game like The Legend of Zelda, where players confront a complex, unknown environment. Much like this, researchers often find themselves…

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