Unexpected Beauty: Art in Chemistry


Two weeks ago, I sat as part of a panel for UConn’s new art installation at The Benton Museum. Titled ‘Chemistry 101: The Science of Photography,” this ended up being a very fun and low-key discussion about the merging of art and science.

We started with a brief cocktail reception, and later went upstairs where we were presented with the million dollar question: what is art? I waxed poetically on the role of the artist and the inspirational power of art, and how craft is part and parcel of art. There was talk about the elegant chemistry found in traditional photography, and the changing landscape of art as digital tools continue open up new ways of seeing the world. The conversation took a turn to the spiritual and I mused that the conclusion for photography and its omnipresence was the universe’s desire to take one giant selfie.

Read more about this event on UConn’s The Daily Campus:  http://dailycampus.com/unexpected-beauty-discovered-new-benton-program/

XVIVO, TEDMED, and Jeffrey Karp


We always excited to get to help the amazing speakers at the annual TEDMED conferences. This year, we are working with Dr. Jeffrey Karp of Harvard to illustrate his inspiring work on biomimicry.

Biomimicry is the term given to invention inspired by nature. Like us, our non-human cohabitants have gone through millennia of evolution, selection, and adaptation. Whether it be a shrub, a butterfly, or a cockroach, by understanding how these miraculous lifeforms do what they do, we’re already halfway toward making something for which nature has given proof-of-concept.

Jeff Karp is set to deliver his talk during TEDMED 2014, which runs from September 10-12. Don’t miss the chance to hear about the amazing things he’s doing across science and medicine.

Treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Drug Discovery & Development has included our video in their coverage of a recent Science paper about a new treatment for those with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Read the piece here.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a debilitating disorder caused by a reduced amount of a protein called SMN. A mutation in the SMN2 gene results in improper splicing of its associated mRNA, leading to deficiency in overall SMN levels. Those affected by SMA suffer from severe motor impairment.

In a pre-clinical study recently published by Science, this new treatment has been shown to effectively increase life span and prevent SMA-related motor dysfunction in mice.

XVIVO’s Medical Animations Showcased at ASCO 2014

Every year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) puts together an annual meeting for clinicians, educators, and researchers to come together to discuss new developments and ideas with respect to cancer research and care. This year, the annual ASCO show took place from May 30th- June 3rd in Chicago, Illinois, and we were excited to see that a total of 5 of our animations were screened during the event.

Here are some pictures!

For Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, we helped depict the mechanism of action of Bavituximab, an investigative drug that encourages active immunity in cancerous environments.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals

Click the image to watch Bavituximab MOA animation











For Celldex, we created two animations. One depicting the MOA of Rindopepimut, which targets the oncogene EGFRv3, and of Glembatumumab vedotin, which targets the transmembrane protein GPNMB.

Glembatumumab vedotin

Glembatumumab vedotin












We also illustrated the mechanism of disease for MCL/CLL, and depicted the mechanism behind selective BCL-2 inhibition.

BCL-2 inhibition

BCL-2 inhibition










Congratulations to the ASCO community, and thank you to all our clients who have entrusted us with illustrating their amazing developments in cancer research.

Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug

Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug

THE CROWDED CELL: A jumble of proteins inside the cell, visualized in a scientific animation.
Credit: Harvard University, XVIVO Scientific Animation

When we first released “The Inner Life of Cell” back in 2006, we were met with kudos and awe. What we had chosen to depict, for the sake of clarity, was open intracellular space, and the smooth, almost premeditated action taken by molecules within the cell. Of course, this was somewhat of a misrepresentation; we have long known that the inside of a cell is packed full of proteins, and ones that don’t remain still nor glide toward their destinations. At that scale, and in that environment, nearly everything that happens is guided by intermolecular chaos and the rules of probability.

Though we may often take some artistic liberties for the sake of clarity, what we realized about this visualization was that it seemed to discount how diseases develop internally. “Inner Life of the Cell” was about a healthy leukocyte responding to an inflammatory signal, but it provided no hints into how diseases might progress in the absence of external sources. So, together with our collaborators over at Harvard, we decided to create “Protein Packing.” We hope that in our newest piece, our viewers can appreciate and speculate how small disturbances in that sort of chaotic environment could drastically alter the function of the cell, leading to much broader consequences. We hope that this gives people a better, clearer lens through which to think about our body and what goes on inside it.

Our animation was featured in the NYTimes today by Carl Zimmer, who discusses many of the ideas we mentioned above. Head over to the website and read his piece, “Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug.” We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our work recognized, and extend to him our sincerest thanks!

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/science/watch-proteins-do-the-jitterbug.html?ref=science