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Computer Software Program Allows Observation of Viruses

By Silver City Sun-News

October 28, 2010

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Two New Mexico State University (NMSU) scientists have developed software that generates approximate three-dimensional models of complex and unknown proteins, which could help researchers find treatments and cures for viruses. The software, developed by NMSU professor Son Cao Tran and researcher Enrico Pontelli, simulates how atoms interact and behave in nature. "The knowledge of three-dimensional structures of the viruses is essential for understanding the pathogenesis of the viruses and antiviral drug design," Pontelli says.

The program can generate libraries of commonly understood structures, making it easier to study specific viruses. "Using programming techniques to generate clean and compact code and to enable rapid prototyping, the problem of assembling substructures is efficiently tackled using the solving techniques provided by constraint programming systems," Tran says.

The researchers say the program also cuts the expense of lab equipment and sidesteps some technical issues scientists may face using traditional microscopes.

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