Courtesy of Center for Biomolecular Modeling, Milwaulkee School of Engineering

Until recently structural biology has been limited by the fact that it relies on two-dimensional computer representations of three-dimensional objects. Now 3D Molecular Designs http://www.moleculardesigns.com of Wauwatosa, Wis., hopes to make the field truly three-dimensional, allowing new insights into known structures and giving hope to those not blessed with the space-manipulation skills needed to make sense of flat-screen images.

The company grew out of a small business-innovation research grant to Tim Herman and his colleagues at the Center for Biomolecular Modeling, Milwaukee School of Engineering, for modifying rapid prototyping technologies to make molecular models.

Herman's team worked initially with Roger Sayle, a designer of RasMol, the popular molecule-visualization freeware, to create software that would generate output from PDB files that could be read by the rapid prototyping machines. Now, they can create α-carbon-backbone or ball-and-stick models in nylon or plaster....

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