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Computer simulation of tuberculosis bacteria could lead to discovery of new ways to fight disease

A Rutgers–Camden professor is using his expertise in computer science to aid in the development of new methods to fight tuberculosis.

Desmond Lun, an associate professor of computer science, has received $36,589 from a Lockheed Martin contract administered by the National Institutes of Health for his work with GRANITE (Genetic Regulatory Analysis of Networks Investigational Tool Environment), a software platform designed to simulate the behavior of living cells.

The role of Lun’s lab in the funded project is to use the GRANITE program to make predictions about the behavior of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis bacteria usually attack the lungs, but also can attack other parts of the body such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, tuberculosis can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

“There are drugs that fight tuberculosis, but as is often the case with bacterial diseases, it develops immunities to these drugs,” Lun says. “There’s quite a search going on for new drugs and researchers are now looking at an area of the organism known as central metabolism. We want to disrupt the process of how the organism takes the nutrients of its environment, breaks them down, and uses them to grow.”

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