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Intellectural Property Used to Create Scientific Software to Aid in Drug Design


VeraChem LLC founders Drs. Michael Gilson, Michael Potter, and Hillary Gilson, using UMBI licensed intellectual property, are creating scientific software that provides expert users with tools for computer-aided drug discovery and molecular design. VeraChem’s recent first sale, a pre-release version of Vconf, is followed by the projected launch on September 8 of Vcharge, a new software product for computing molecular properties important in drug design. The official launch of Vconf is expected to follow later in 2004.

“Vcharge combines speed and accuracy in a unique software package that will be available for the Linux and Windows operating systems,” says Dr. Gilson, Chief Scientific Officer for VeraChem LLC and Professor at UMBI’s Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology. “This product is just the first in a series that will bring advanced computational methods in an affordable and user-friendly format to experts in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.”

“Vcharge is a tool for computer-aided drug design,” says Dr. Gilson. “It allows the designer to compute the atomic charges of a candidate drug molecule as a step in determining whether it will effectively bind a targeted protein. Most drugs work by binding tightly to a targeted protein molecule. For example, HIV protease inhibitors help patients by binding and blocking the function of a protein that the AIDS virus needs to survive and reproduce. Each atom of a protein carries a small electrical charge and, since opposite charges attract while like charges repel, it is important that the atoms of a drug molecule have charges which complement the targeted protein.”

In addition to Vcharge, the entrepreneurs at VeraChem have developed a proprietary software toolkit with a range of functionalities, including ligand-protein docking and scoring, powerful conformational search of candidate drug molecules, computation of atomic energies and forces, automatic generation of alternative resonance forms of drug-like compounds, and automatic detection of topological and 3d molecular symmetries. VeraChem also has developed a novel user-interface design that shortens the learning curve for high-end modeling technologies. These technologies will form the basis of a series of upcoming products.

“The creation of VeraChem, and the launch of its first niche market product, Vcharge, is a success for both UMBI and the principals of VeraChem, LLC,” says Dr. Jennie Hunter-Cevera, President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI). “Through VeraChem, UMBI licensed intellectual property has been put to good business use, enabling the creation of a marketable product that meets the needs of the scientific community, as well as furthering biotechnology research. Seasoned scientists, as well as those early on in their careers will be able to use this software to increase speed and accuracy. We are very proud of Dr. Gilson and the team of experts at VeraChem.”

For more information on Vcharge, or to place an order for this new scientific software, visit For more information on the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, a cooperative venture with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Montgomery County, Maryland, visit and proceed to the About Us section.

| newswise
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