My collection of molecular movies

There has been a new discipline developing in molecular biology for some time now, Bioanimation Projects have ranged in size from WEHI‘s colossal compilation to Harvard Biovision‘s magnum opus “Inner Life of the Cell” to commercially produced masterpieces to smaller projects by university PIs and enthusiasts.

Here is my collection,

Biomedical Animators Drew Berry and Etsuko Uno are supported by WEHI as they create their marvelous films:

Examples of their work:

The Inner Life of the Cell
Harvard University selected XVIVO to develop an animation that would take their cellular biology students on a journey through the microscopic world of a cell, illustrating mechanisms that allow a white blood cell to sense its surroundings and respond to an external stimulus. This award winning piece was the first topic in a series of animations XVIVO is creating for Harvard’s educational website BioVisions at Harvard.
Powering the Cell: Mitochondria

Together Harvard University and XVIVO developed this 3D animation journey for Harvard’s undergraduate Molecular and Cellular Biology students about the microscopic world of mitochondria. The animation highlights the creation of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) – mobile molecules which store chemical energy derived from the breakdown of carbon-based food. ATP molecules act as a kind of currency, imparting chemical energy to power all the functional components of cellular activity.
JAK Pathway Signaling
Janus kinases (JAK) are enzymes that mediate signaling of several important drivers of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), other hematological malignancies and inflammatory diseases. There are four JAK enzymes: JAK1, 2, 3 and TYK2. Aberrant activation of the JAK-STAT pathway has been documented in a variety of cancers. This clip features a selection from the full animation showing normal JAK pathway activation and downstream signaling.
Fc fusion Technology
Biogen Idec’s Fc fusion technology is used in FDA-approved drugs taken by thousands of patients for the long-term treatment of diseases such as adult and juvenile arthritis, low platelets and chronic psoriasis.
The Science of Milk
FrieslandCampina, a leading Dutch producer and exporter of dairy products in the Netherlands, sought a way to reveal the complex building blocks that make up milk’s rich science story. “Milk is one of nature’s richest sources of nutrients, but even though it seems simple, it is a fascinating and complex product full of unique molecules and interactions,” states Ruud J.W. Schoemaker, Senior Researcher at FrieslandCampina.
Türk Telekom, making the complex simple
Türk Telekom tasked XVIVO with creating a compelling story that was both informative and awe inspiring, highlighting Türk Telekom and its health web portal. The animation meets this challenge by visually conveying the infinite amounts of unique health data contained in our bodies. A number of anatomical systems and molecular statistics are revealed before pulling back to see that all this information is contained in one body.
Corynex Recombinant Protein Expression
This animation, developed for Ajinomoto, shows the expression and export of recombinant proteins from the Corynebacterium glutamicum. It illustrates both purification through the Sec and TAT pathways.
Recombinant Human Antithrombin
ATryn®, a recombinant form of human antithrombin, also known as ATIII, is at the forefront of transgenic technology for the production of biotherapeutics. Antithrombin is a plasma protein with anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties that, like many other therapeutic proteins which are currently derived from the human blood supply, has been difficult to express using conventional recombinant protein production methods.
Drug Manufacture and Delivery
Many pharmaceuticals create drugs out of a uniform batch of chemically-tailored molecules that are aggregated into pills with a binder, or dissolved in saline. Currently more innovative methods of drug delivery are being used. These designer drugs are composed of exotic bio-engineered compounds blended precisely together in various combinations, whether they be time-released, enteric resistant, or active and pro-drug mixes. A variety of these patented manufacturing and drug delivery methods are highlighted in many of our Mechanism of Action animations. From compounds assembling into microspheres, filtration through nanoscopic grids to detailed chromatography and time-dependent drug release, get a close up look at these microscopic methods in action in our sampler animation.
How an AIDS vaccine might work
This video, developed for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, demonstrates how an AIDS vaccine might work in the body. Created for IAVI’s presentation at the TED conference, February 2010, this video takes a look at the key players in the immune system and shows the anticipated immune response to HIV after vaccination.
Zirus AntiviroticsCondensed
Scientists at Zirus are working on a new technology platform to cure and manage viral infection through the development of new classes of antivirotics. This animation depicts the life cycle of H1N1 influenza-A virus and the methodology Zirus uses to find appropriate targets.
Medical Device Demo
From future technology to life saving procedures, this is a collection of animations from XVIVO’s medical device clients. DEKA’s revolutionary robotic arm, DARPA’s high tech trauma pod, and Philips cancer detection and treatment systems are among some of the concepts and products that are showcased.
Dengue Viral Fusion
This animation was an educational project for PBS TV which detailed the mechanism the Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever Virus uses to escape the capture vesicle that carries it into a human host cell, allowing it to infect that cell.
Stem Cell Science
XVIVO created a series of depictions of stem cell science for Jessica Gerstle for a documentary film she produced on her father’s quadroplegia following a bike accident. These animations described making embryonic stem cells, and the processes of diversification that pluropotent cells undergo to become replacements for cells in tissues and organs that have sustained damage, either through injury or disease.
Active Cellular Immunotherapy
Biotechnology company Dendreon Corporation, has developed what is believed to be a method for getting around prostate cancer’s ability to suppress the immune system’s cancer surveillance mechanisms. XVIVO visualized the mechanism of disease and also the proposed mechanism of action of a new class of drugs for fighting cancer’s immunosuppressant abilities.
GlaxoSmithKline commissioned XVIVO to create a mechanism of action animation for Theravance’s new class of antibiotic, Vibativ developed to stop serious MRSA infections in hospital settings. Vibativ works by preventing bacterial ribosomes from making proteins, which replicating bacteria require to effectively build new cell walls. Bacteria will run out of cell wall material in the replication process effectively killing them.
XVIVO collaborated on this animation which was developed for 3D stereo projection. This mechanism of disease video depicts Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder or IEED, a syndrome which can affect people with brain damage caused by conditions ranging from physical injury to medical trauma and diseases.
HuLuc 63
PDL BioPharma asked XVIVO to show how a novel humanized antibody, HuLuc 63, appears to induce anti-tumor effects by binding to a protein that is only expressed on the surface of myeloma cells. This initiates antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity activity that kills myeloma cells and leaves healthy cells intact.
XVIVO worked along side Palio Communications to create a mechanism of action animation for Fentora. Fentora is a pill which contains the opiate painkiller fentanyl, combined with an effervescent compound, that enables the drug to efficiently traverse the mucosa of the patient’s cheek and go directly and effectively into the blood stream, blocking the sudden breakthrough pain in individuals who suffer from chronic pain already being suppressed by medication.
Chronic Idiopathic Constipation
These clips, from a project discussing the mechanisms of disease of Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C), depict micro-anatomy of the bowel from the level of microvilli which cover the bowel surface, down to the traffic of ions and proteins absorbed and secreted through specialized tight junction structures that bind villus surface cells together.
DARPA-Future Soldier
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) principal investigator, Rick Satava, M.D. and XVIVO partnered in preparing this animation. The animation was integrated into a proposal seeking funding for an ambitious development program that would eventually see the deployment of autonomous casualty retrieval and surgical robots that will accompany US troops in future urban combat environments.

Hybrid Medical commercially produces its films:

Anatomy Reveal
An animated reveal of human anatomy. We wanted to show the complexity and beauty of the human body by blending between various passes and render styles.
Nanotube technology MOA
This 3-minute animation examines Somatuline Autogel, a unique formulation for building and delivering effective therapy. Engineered to provide a rapid therapeutic response and extended delivery, Somatuline Autogel is a one-of-a-kind formulation with sustained control. Using the latest in nanotechnology, Somatuline monomers organize into a controlled, self-assembling nanotube.
Anti-Drug Antibodies
Short depiction of immunogenicity, an immune response raised by the body to a therapeutic drug that results in the development of anti-drug antibodies. As anti-TNF antibodies bind to and remove TNFa, anti-drug antibodies begin binding anti-TNF antibodies not bound to TNFa. Anti-drug antibodies may lead to unwanted drug clearance and shorter duration of response. Part of a series of animations and other module content developed for an iPad application.
Acid-producing parietal cells
This is a small portion from a 5-minute animation that examines the mechanism of action of DEXILANT and how it works to decrease the amount of acid in the stomach.
Animation produced for inclusion into the Women’s Health area on the Mayo Clinic website. Part of a series of animations where we have collaborated with the Mayo Clinic Staff to help achieve a more high-end look to their animations.
Hypertension DVD
A close collaboration between Hybrid, Experts in Health and Distant Object Productions resulted in a comprehensive educational DVD for patients and healthcare professionals on the subject of Hypertension. The project involved a wide range of visual media including 3D animation, patient interviews, as well as an in-depth Keynote presentation that was part of a larger stage production in front of a live audience. By making this complex subject matter clear and interesting to follow, the first audience survey for this film revealed that 85% of patients who watched this video said it helped them decide to make changes in their lives.
Battling fungi, bacteria
This 3 minute animation examines the mechanism of action of Serenade® and the compounds that create multiple modes of action, making it highly effective against a broad spectrum of fungi and bacteria.
Macrophage engulfing pathogens
T-cells attacking tumor cells
This scene shows several activated T cells attacking rapidly dividing cancer cells of a growing tumor. The activation and proliferation of cytotoxic T cells are critical for immune-mediated tumor destruction. Recent scientific advances have reignited interest in the area of cancer immunotherapy.
Antigenic Shift
Only the influenza Type-A virus is capable of what is known as antigenic shift. The current flu in circulation is an entirely new, mutated pathogen formed from elements of human, pig, and avian virus strains. Overflowing with mutated viruses, the respiratory epithelial host cells of the pig eventually burst open and circulate the new flu virus into the susceptible human population.
Reducing insulin resistance
This 5-minute animation examines the mechanism of action for a type of medication that helps to reduce insulin resistance. This opening sequence discusses the unique response to selective PPAR modulators and the resulting activation or repression of different genes that lead to distinct biological responses.
Cholesterol and Micelles
This 6-minute animation discusses how simultaneous inhibition of both intestinal absorption and hepatic synthesis can lower LDL-cholesterol levels in a complementary manner. This segment focuses on how cholesterol is absorbed in the small intestine and inserts into micelles, which interact with enterocytes on the villi of the intestinal wall.
An explanation of the use of folic acid in nucleotide metabolism
This 6-minute animation examines the mechanism of action of ALIMTA, a new cancer drug used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma. Pemetrexed for injection, ALIMTA is a multitargeted antifolate that disrupts multiple folate-dependant processes. The goal of this project was to create a better understanding of folate metabolism and the process of multitargeted antifolate therapy. This sequence discusses the process of folate metabolism, which is critical to the growth and progression of malignancies, such as advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
An explanation of the Pathophysiology of Crohn’s disease
Abbott Laboratories hired Hybrid Medical Animation to produce a 3D animation to be viewed by GI specialists that would concisely and clearly explain:
(1) the complex pathophysiology of Crohn’s disease and the role of a key inflammatory molecule known as TNF-alpha, and
(2) the mechanism of action of HUMIRA®,
a monoclonal antibody that reduces inflammation by neutralizing TNF-alpha.
An brief explanation of compliment mediated immunity
This 4-minute animation details how Biothera’s patented compounds work inside the body to support healthy immune function. The presentation also illustrates how the Biothera beta glucan’s unique mechanism of action engages immune cells not normally involved in the fight against cancer and expands understanding of how they enhance the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody therapy to kill cancer.
An explanation of how intestinal micelles contribute to blood cholesterol
This 6-minute animation discusses how simultaneous inhibition of both intestinal absorption and hepatic synthesis can lower LDL-cholesterol levels in a complementary manner. This segment focuses on how cholesterol is absorbed in the small intestine and inserts into micelles, which interact with enterocytes on the villi of the intestinal wall.
A demonstration of influenza infection
Only the influenza Type-A virus is capable of what is known as antigenic shift. The current flu in circulation is an entirely new, mutated pathogen formed from elements of human, pig, and avian virus strains. Overflowing with mutated viruses, the respiratory epithelial host cells of the pig eventually burst open and circulate the new flu virus into the susceptible human population.
A demonstration of the stages of mitosis
Stages of Mitosis, a promotional piece, begins with a fly-through of cells preparing to undergo mitosis (cell division). Upon entering a cell we are introduced to various organelles of the inner cell and the key events involved in mitosis. Cell division involves 7 key stages resulting in the splitting of the nucleus, and ultimately, cell division.
A demonstration of T4 binding
T4 bacteriophages targeting E. coli bacteria. Bacteriophages are small viruses that infect bacteria and kill them by multiplying and essentially filling the bacterial cell to bursting.
A video demonstrating Streptococcus pneumoniae growth
Sequence showing Streptococcus pneumoniae, a pathogen that is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in adults and children. Over the last decade, resistance has become common and prevalence of strains resistant to multiple classes of drugs is increasing.
The beating heart with blood flow

This is was created to show blood flow in the chambers of a beating heart. In this case, we chose to make the flow subtle and not too overpowering. The camera moves around the heart to allow for multiple views. We’ve also added transparency to the outside bottom portion of the heart to show the mitral valves in action; the aortic and pulmonary valves can also been seen from some angles.

About Random42,
Examples of their work:

Multiple Sclerosis (Low resolution)
The development of multiple sclerosis (MS) involves cells of the immune system crossing the blood-barrier into the central nervous system (CNS), where they can promote inflammation, tissue damage and ultimately neurodegeneration. This medical animation details the development of MS and highlights the need for therapeutic agents that prevent neurodegeneration and induce CNS repair.
Angiogenesis (Low resolution)
Angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels form within the body. In cancer, factors can be released that promote the formation of blood vessels in and around a tumor, supplying it with its own blood supply. The presence of these blood vessels is often correlated with a poor prognosis in patients with cancer. This medical animation describes the structure of these new blood vessels and some of the issues associated with tumor angiogenesis. It forms part of a larger web based project that Random42 developed to increase the awareness of cancer driven angiogenesis.
Improving the efficacy of therapeutic agents (Low resolution)
Proteins and peptides can be used as therapeutic agents for the treatment of a variety of diseases. However, their efficacy is often compromised by their rapid clearance from the body. To help overcome this issue, polymers have been conjugated to such therapeutic agents that promote stability and reduce clearance. This medical animation details the use of such a polymer, polysialic acid, and its various advantages over its competitors.
Treatment of dry eye syndrome (Low resolution)Dry eye syndrome is a condition characterized by a decrease in the quality or quantity of the tear film that covers the surface of the eye. In this condition, a patient may experience visual disturbances as well as damage to the ocular surface. This medical animation highlights a treatment for dry eye syndrome that is thought to reestablish a healthy tear film and treat some of the symptoms associated with this condition.
The role of the stroma in cancer growth and development (Low resolution)
Support for a growing tumor can be provided by its own stroma which consists of connective tissue and various cell types. The connective tissue provides a framework and physical support for the tumor, whereas the different cells contained within the stroma can release factors that promote the growth and development of the tumor. This medical animation provides information on the role of the stroma in tumor development and its potential as a therapeutic target.

About BioLucid Productions,
Examples of their work:

Cell Adhesion Molecule Inhibition
This movie was created for Elan Pharmacuticals for Digestive Disease Week (DDW)in Los Angeles in May of 2006. It was displayed prominently around their booth along with an interacive educator which used art and cut scenes from the movie in an engaging video game that educated physicians about the role adhesion molecules can play in digestive diseases such as UC and Crohn’s disease. [3min. 48sec.]
Exubera Delivery Route Animation
Shows the delivery mechanism for Pfizer’s inhalable insulin, EXUBERA. [2min. 11sec.]
Releasing a New Wave in PPI Therapy
Created for Santarus Inc, a highly detailed depiction of how their novel Proton Pump Inhibitor works quicky to stop excess acid production by the parietal cells of the stomach. [5min. 05sec.]
Dual Action Ciprodex
Created for Alcon Laboratories, describes the unique synergy between antibiotic and anti-inflamatory in their product for the treatment of Otitis Media. [4min. 43sec.]
GI Drug Delivery
Created for Salix Pharmaceuticals, shows how their unique molecule is activated by bacterial azoreduction in the colon to treat ulcerative colitis. [3min. 20sec.]
Angiogenesis in Cancer
Created for Pfizer, explains the process of angiogenesis and the role tyrosine kinase inhibitors may play to inhibit blood vessel growth to a tumor. [2min. 40sec.]
Metabolism of Methotrexate
Created for Prometheus Laboratories, details the metabolism of methotrexate and its effect on rheumatoid arthritis. [3min. 50sec.]

Gaël McGill at his company digizyme has also been making beautiful films:

An explanation of embryonic development and Embryonic differentiation sponsored by HHMIT4 infection process commissioned of Seyet by Michael Rossman

Productions by Adrian Elcock’s lab at the University of Iowa

Finally here are two awesome interpretive dance productions

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