Rutgers professor receives NIH grant for TB prediction software

A Rutgers University - Camden professor has received a National Institutes of Health contract for his work with a software platform that can make predictions about the behavior of the tuberculosis bacteria.

Desmond Lun, an associate professor of computer science, was awarded $36,589 from the Lockheed Martin contract administered by the NIH for work with the Genetic Regulatory Analysis of Networks Investigational Tool Environment software platform, reports.

The GRANITE program simulates the behavior of living cells. Mycobacterium tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs, but can also attack the brain, spine and kidneys. If the disease is not properly treated, it 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 said, according to "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."

Lun is using the program to simulate a metabolism disruption of the bacteria. The process may give researchers the answers they need to create a new drug to counteract the organism.

"We're looking for things that may kill the organism," Lun said, according to "This is only the first step. Who knows where it will go? It's a very exciting project to be a part of."

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