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Stanford University, Advania, Simulia, HPE, and UberCloud Achieve Breakthrough in Living Heart Simulations

16.10.2017 15:45

Practical applications abound in the world of HPC, although perhaps those most critical are overlooked outside of the industries in which they may be most celebrated.

A recent breakthrough in Living Heart Simulations deserves consideration - a new software tool developed by researchers from the Living Matter Laboratory of Stanford University enables drug developers to quickly assess the viability of a new compound, which means better and safer drugs reach the market to improve patients' lives.

Based on the development of a Living Heart Model (LHM) that encompasses advanced electro-physiological modeling, this research project focused on assessing potential cardiac arrhythmia, an undesirable and potentially lethal side effect of some medications. By adding capabilities to the Living Heart Model for cell differentiation and electrocardiogram (ECG) computations, the Stanford team, in conjunction with SIMULIA, have developed a multi-scale 3-dimensional model of the heart that can predict the risk of lethal arrhythmias caused by drugs.


Figure 1: Tetrahedral mesh (left) and cube mesh (right)

Creating this computational model required a multi-scale approach that is computationally expensive: the electrical activity of cells is modeled in high detail and resolved simultaneously in the entire heart. Due to the fast dynamics that occur in this problem, the spatial and temporal resolutions are highly demanding. 

Altogether, 42 simulations have been run to study whether a drug causes arrhythmias or not, and results show that the model can correctly and reliably predict the anti-arrhythmic risk of commonly used drugs. All features of the model have been refined and adapted to a computational mesh encompassing 7.5 million nodes and 250,000,000 internal variables that are updated and stored within each step of the simulation.

Researchers envision their model will ultimately help researchers, regulatory agencies, and pharmaceutical companies rationalize safe drug development and reduce the time-to-market of new drugs. 

Development, calibration, and simulation were executed in an UberCloud software container for SIMULIA's Abaqus 2017 deployed on Advania's HPC cloud on HPE servers.


The Living Heart Project is uniting leading cardiovascular researchers, educators, medical device developers, regulatory agencies, and practicing cardiologists around the world on a shared mission to develop and validate highly accurate personalized digital human heart models. These models will establish a unified foundation for cardiovascular in silico medicine and serve as a common technology base for education and training, medical device design, testing, clinical diagnosis, and regulatory science -- creating an effective path for rapidly translating current and future cutting-edge innovations directly into improved patient care.


 This is a shortened version of an article which first appeared on HPCwire and is reprinted with permission of the publisher, Tabor Communications, Inc.


Advania is proud to have provided the HPC Cloud resources in this collaborative effort to enable this research. We look forward to more projects to come.