Interactive 3D Visualisations of Biological Molecules Integrated into the Scholarly Literature
The embargo has now been lifted on the announcement from PLoS ONE - partially reproduced here:
On October 20th 2009, PLoS ONE will feature an impressive new 3D molecular animation technology on five newly published articles. This represents the start of a new PLoS ONE collection entitled “Structural Biology and Human Health: Medically Relevant Proteins from the SGC” (also known as the ‘Structural Genomics Consortium’).The first enhanced articles are available here. I've been trying to evaluate these but I'm having trouble downloading the required plug-in: it is very slow and has just stalled on me. Maybe the problem is on my side so I'm asking the community to give these a spin and report. I am especially curious about the comparison with Jmol. This particular plug-in does not use Java at all from what I can glean from the press release.
These peer-reviewed articles, which include some of the research highlights from the SGC, describe new protein structures, including a protein involved in the survival and proliferation of cancer cells, a protein associated with hereditary paraplegia, and a protein involved in degrading foreign compounds and pollutants in the body.
Readers of these enhanced articles will first need to download a free plug-in for their browser but will then be able to click on hyperlinked text within the article to ‘fly’ to the relevant position within the molecule, and to then interact with it at will (by zooming, rotating and exploring). The functionality, whereby the text of an academic article is tightly integrated with an animated and interactive molecular structure, provides an entirely new and enhanced experience with a significant “wow” factor.
Notwithstanding these probably temporary issues I think this is a very exciting development for scientific publication in the life sciences.