Oct 24, 2014
Developing multiscale, multiphysics simulator of the heart
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo and a Fujitsu research group have developed a simulator of a beating heart based on mathematically modeled operating principles of molecular motors. This research links molecules on the micro-level and the heart on the macro-level, and enables high-level predictions that can be used both for basic medical research and clinical practice.
"I am in charge of mechanical movement of the heart, so I'm involved in an effort to use this massive computing power to analyze how molecules behave to contract muscles, resulting in dynamic motion. Until now we didn't have enough computing power for accurate modeling, and we had to leave out crucial areas in our analysis when working from the level of molecular behavior. With the K computer, we have the power to start simulation from individual molecules. Now we can directly connect molecular behavior to contraction of the heart muscle, resulting in extremely realistic, natural simulations of heart beat. "
Use of the computational power of the K computer allows direct analysis of motion of individual molecules to simulate contraction of the heart on a macro level. Molecules do not act independently; instead their movements are continually influenced by other molecules around them. Also, the shape of the heart changes during every beat. This deformation in turn changes the behavior of the molecules. So, this simulation ties together the macro and the micro worlds to simulate how phenomena on the molecular level affect the beating of the heart, and how this beating in turn affects individual molecules. The computational methods to precisely model these interactions that was made possible by the K computer allow us to see new relations never seen before.
"The computations are fundamentally based on Newtonian dynamics, and this involves the principle of action and reaction, so we have to seek states that represent balance of forces. But, it wasn’t easy to establish a solver to obtain stable solutions for this type of analysis. It's not just analysis of micro and macro interactions, either. Here we have interactions between blood and the heart wall, and here we have interactions between blood and the heart valve. Now we have a stable platform to analyze these. "
Going forward, the simulations will model mechanisms by which molecular mutations lead to cardiac disease contributing to basic medical research. Efforts are also underway to leverage simulations to benefit individual patients by selecting the best options for treatment, such as by simulating different cardiac surgeries.
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