Could computers develop the drugs of the future? The short answer: probably, but not yet.
Computer simulation is a cornerstone in the development and optimization of “mission-critical” elements in industries ranging from aerospace to finance. Even the smooth functioning of nuclear reactors – where failure would be catastrophic – relies on a computational model called a Virtual Reactor, which allows scientists and engineers to observing the reactor’s real-time response to operating conditions.
The analogous model in medicine – a “virtual human” – doesn’t yet exist. We still rely on living, breathing animals and humans to test drugs and devices. Discoveries are made largely by trial and error. But the age-old approach that led to the discovery of antibiotics, cardiac catheterization, and organ transplantation is becoming increasingly unsustainable.