Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computer Models Of The Heart Can Help Cure Cardiac Ills

July 25, 1997
Johns Hopkins University
A highly detailed computer model developed by a Johns Hopkins biomedical engineer mimics the workings of a heart down to the sub-cellular level and can be used to "test" cardiac drugs.

THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITYOFFICE OF NEWS AND INFORMATION3400 N. Charles StreetBaltimore, Maryland 21218-2692Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

Related Articles


July 25, 1997FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECONTACT: Phil Sneidermanprs@jhu.edu


The dog heart on Raimond Winslow's computer screen is beatingerratically.

The diagnosis is severe arrhythmia, abnormal electrical activitythat could kill the dog within minutes. Winslow gave the dog thismalady by manipulating the numbers that created its heart -- athree-dimensional model that exists only inside the computer.Now, he changes a few numbers again, this time to adjust themicroscopic gates or ion channels that regulate electrical excitability incardiac cells. Moments later, the heart is beating in a slower, more regular fashion. For this computer-animated organ, "death" is no longer imminent.

Human hearts can also benefit from this high-tech marriagebetween biology and computer technology, says Winslow, anassociate professor of biomedical engineering at The JohnsHopkins University. Using a highly detailed computer model thatmimics the way a heart works -- down to the sub-cellular level -- hestudies serious cardiac disorders and mathematically "tests" thedrugs that might cure them.

He begins by translating the heart's physiological functions intonumeric formulas, using the latest data collected by biologists.Then, by making small changes in the model, he can see howcertain enzymes, proteins and other molecules make the heart beatproperly -- or improperly.

Using this model, Winslow is looking for medicines that couldprolong the lives of millions of people suffering from congestiveheart failure. His experiments have already shown that certaindrugs used to control high blood pressure might also preventsudden cardiac death.

Winslow and his key research partner, Denis Noble, have formed acompany, Physiome Sciences Inc., to pursue commercialapplications of this software and to market drug leads discoveredby the team.

Noble, a professor at England's University of Oxford, developedthe first mathematical models of electrical activity in the heartmore than 30 years ago. By building on Noble's work and creatingeven more elaborate computer models, Winslow believes the team isbreaking important new ground. "Before our project," he says, "noone had ever simulated electrical arrhythmias in athree-dimensional model of the heart and then used it as avehicle for testing drug actions."

In recent months, Winslow has discussed this research before TheInternational Union of The Physiological Society in St.Petersburg, Russia, and at a conference on Computational Biologyof the Heart in San Diego. His current model replicates a dogheart, which functions much like a human one. But Winslow says,"The methodology will also work with other organ systems andtissues."

This technique -- using numerical models to study biologicalfunctions -- dates back to the early 1950s, when two Britishscientists used crude hand-cranking calculators to come up withmathematical equations representing the electrical activity of asquid's nerve. Today, advances on two scientific fronts have madethis area of research even more fruitful. First, biologists arecollecting far more detailed information about how cells, andeven genes, interact to determine a person's health. At the sametime, computer technology is much more powerful and accessible,making it easier for researchers to compile and manipulate thesecomplex findings.

"There's just an explosion of cellular and molecular data on theproperties of heart tissue," Winslow says. "In a sense, themodels have not kept pace with this explosion of data, andthere's a real need to create ever more biophysically detailedmodels of individual heart cells that incorporate all of thisinformation."

By using such computer models of the heart, Winslow says,pharmaceutical companies will be able to dramatically narrowtheir searches for life-saving medicines--and save millions ofdollars now spent on conventional trial-and-error methods. "Ifyou can tell a company to search for a drug that has a specificeffect on a particular ion channel," he says, "that's important,because once these companies know what kind of drug to look for,they have the technology to screen more than 10,000 compounds aday in an effort to find such a drug."

This technique could also lead to breakthroughs involving otherorgans. "Models are tools for discovering the functions ofbiological mechanisms," Winslow says. "The approach can be usedbeyond just the heart. It could be applied to other diseases,other biological systems. We're using the heart as a firstexample, sort of a jumping-off point."

Some of Winslow's computer simulations of electrical activity inthe heart can be found at the following World Wide Web address: http://www.bme.jhu.edu/~rwinslow

This research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Whitaker Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Computer Models Of The Heart Can Help Cure Cardiac Ills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970725202815.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (1997, July 25). Computer Models Of The Heart Can Help Cure Cardiac Ills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970725202815.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Computer Models Of The Heart Can Help Cure Cardiac Ills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970725202815.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IBM Promises Millions For Businesses With ... Weather Data?

IBM Promises Millions For Businesses With ... Weather Data?

Newsy (Mar. 31, 2015) IBM announced Tuesday a partnership with The Weather Company and a $3 billion investment for its Internet of Things unit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Industrious 3D printed bionic ants working together could toil in the factories of the future, says German technology company Festo. The robotic insects cooperate and coordinate their actions and movements to achieve a common aim. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet Giants Drive Into the Electric Vehicle Space

Internet Giants Drive Into the Electric Vehicle Space

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Internet companies are looking to disrupt the auto industry with new smart e-vehicles, but widespread adoption in Asia may not be cured by new Chinese investments. Pamela Ambler reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Talking Dinosaur Toy Has All The Answers

Talking Dinosaur Toy Has All The Answers

Rooftop Comedy (Mar. 29, 2015) A company has invented a new toy that can have an entire conversation with kids. It’s called CogniToy, and it’s a plastic dinosaur that is powered by IBM’s super computer, Watson. So, it basically knows the answer to every question, and can even tell jokes, stories, and remember things. Parents – would you buy CogniToy? Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins