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Computer Simulation Captures Immune Response to Flu

By ­niversity of Rochester Medical Center

May 28, 2009



Researchers at the Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling (CBIM) at the University of Rochester Medical Center have tested a computer simulation of major portions of the body's immune reaction to influenza type A, potentially impacting treatment design and preparation for future pandemics. The simulation is built from preexisting, smaller-scale models that use mathematical equations to simulate millions of interactions between virtual immune cells and viruses.

A team of immunologists, mathematical modelers, statisticians, and software developers at CBIM created the new model over three years. "High-speed, accurate computer simulation tools are urgently needed to dissect the relative importance of each attribute of viral strains in their ability to cause disease, and the contribution of each part of the immune system in a successful counterattack," says CBIM co-director Martin S. Zand. "Real-world experiments simply cannot be executed fast enough to investigate so many complex surprises, and we must keep pace with viral evolution to reduce loss of life."

CBIM director and project leader Hulin Wu, the division chief of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, says, "The right computer model can provide a precise, hands-on way of measuring just how good our theories are about how the system responds to pandemic virus, and how to strengthen our defenses."

From University of Rochester Medical Center
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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