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Interactive 3D Molecules in PLoS ONE articles

Today PLoS ONE launched a new Collection titled “Structural Biology and Human Health: Medically Relevant Proteins from the SGC” which makes use of leading edge, three dimensional molecular animation technology.

SGC Collection LogoBecause of our Open Access license, which allows anyone to re-use our content provided they make appropriate attribution, the SGC (a public-private partnership created to place 3D structures of proteins of medical relevance into the public domain) have been able to take the original research articles published in the Collection and create ‘enhanced’ versions of them. As a result each of the research articles is now also available as an ‘interactive’ version, incorporating user manipulable, three-dimensional molecular structures.

Readers of these enhanced articles first need to download a plug-in for their browser but are then able to click on hyperlinked text within the article to ‘fly’ to the relevant position within the molecule, and to interact with it at will (by zooming, rotating, animating, and exploring). The seamless integration of interactive 3D structures into the actual text of the article provides considerable new functionality for readers, and it is hoped it will lead to new insights and discoveries.

A detailed overview explaining how and why the SGC have taken this approach is provided as the first article in the Collection, but this is what two of the SGC researchers had to say about it:

“It’s like directing your own movie to reveal what you want to see. Anyone is now able to look at proteins important for medicine in 3D and move them around as they wish whilst reading about what they are looking at. It’s very intuitive and it should help drug developers in designing new targeted treatments.” (Brian Marsden, SGC)

“At a glance, anyone can now see the proteins for themselves and get all the insight they can by viewing and manipulating the structures in three dimensions whilst reading about what they are seeing. This is far, far better than having to interpret the results of the 500-year-old technology of static images in printed journals.” (Wen Hwa Lee,  SGC)

But don’t take their word for it! Check out the video below which demonstrates some of the interactivity (you should turn on HD and view it in full screen), and then visit any of the articles to try it for yourself (simply click on the “enhanced version” link in the abstract of each article, and install the plug in).

Interactivity Demonstration from brian mossop on Vimeo.

PLoS ONE is excited to launch this Collection, and we will be adding new articles incrementally over time, so check back frequently.

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