Living Heart Project
Dassault Systemes' virtual heart simulation
As Dassault Systèmes Chief Strategy Officer Steven Levine finished what was one of the most inspiring and emotional conference talks this editor has ever seen he was joined on stage by his boss and CEO Bernard Charles, one might think that this was to offer some morale support as the crowd wiped their tears from the cheeks but in fact it was to offer a congratulations as Steve Levine’s dedication and hard work has paid off in spades as the FDA partner with the Living Heart Project.
Steve Levine talked passionately about the project of simulating in 3D a real human heart; “Why can’t we do for life sciences what we do for the aerospace or automotive industry?” he pondered? Ambitiously Dassault went straight for the jugular, or rather coronary, and decided to virtually simulate a real working human heart, in order to help out with the fight of the world’s biggest killer, heart disease.
The success of the simulation was evident in the 3DEXPERIENCE Playground at the Cosmopolitan Hotel is Las Vegas, as a large chunk of exhibitors were showing how a surgeon was able to manipulate and examine a CT scan of a heart in 3D, including a quite incredible immersive experience that was the Christie Digital Cave.
Dassault and Steven are very proud of the Living Heart Project and rightly so; for Steven it is a subject very close to his own as he demonstarated with his final few slides. Steven told the story of a little girl who was born with a rare heart defect in which the heart was the wrong way round; “The heart isn’t symmetrical, one side is meant to deal with lower pressure for the lungs, the other supplies the rest of the body with blood.” He expertly noted.
It wasn’t until the final slide when it became apparent that this little girl, now in her 20s and a medical graduate after four pacemaker operations, was his very own.
After the emotion swept the room and it became apparent how dedicated Steven was to the project he was joined on stage by his CEO to announce the FDA news, the stand got to their feet and applauded.
Dassault Systèmes has signed a five-year collaborative research agreement with the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which will initially target the development of testing paradigms for the insertion, placement and performance of pacemaker leads and other cardiovascular devices used to treat heart disease, a key step in the project, which was only launched in May of this year.
Using a technology crowdsourcing model that protects the intellectual property of each member, yet enables all to share the outcome, the “Living Heart Project” is being developed closely with leading cardiologists, medical device companies and academic researchers who participate in the evaluation of the simulated heart model’s use in testing medical devices, improving clinical diagnosis and guiding pre-surgical planning.
The 30 contributing member organizations, which include more than 100 cardiovascular specialists from across research, industry and medicine, have access to the heart simulator for testing, enabling the acceleration of the program via crowdsourcing. The researchers have teamed with the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) with the goal of accelerating the approval process of medical devices while spurring innovation, improving patient reliability and reducing costs. The Project has already been used to validate the efficacy of a novel valve assist device prior to insertion in a real patient and understand the progression of heart disease.
“Computational modelling and simulation has the potential to revolutionize the medical device and healthcare fields by accelerating innovation and providing comprehensive evidence of long-term safety,” said Bill Murray, President and CEO, MDIC. “It holds the promise of going beyond empirical testing thru human clinical trials to evaluating the interaction of devices with the human body that is not obtainable in any other way. The Living Heart Project is a leading example of a new tool that offers the medical device community a heart simulation that could be validated for use from device design to regulatory submission.”
“The future of healthcare will no doubt include the use of modelling and simulation to guide our choice of treatments, train our doctors and even educate patients on their role in managing their health,” said Dr. Kumaran Kolandaivelu, Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Medical Director, Clinical Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As physicians, we have a moral imperative to use the best science available to ensure the highest quality care with minimal invasiveness and at the least possible cost. We are working with Dassault Systèmes because I believe the time is right to embrace the full potential of computational science in medicine as it has in other disciplines.”
“Enabling healthcare players to create innovative patient experiences is Dassault Systèmes strategic aim in Life Sciences,” said Jean Colombel, Vice President, Life Sciences, Dassault Systèmes. “Through Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform tailored to address unmet medical needs, as demonstrated here in cardiovascular, we support generation of new healthcare solutions and collaborative practices that will ultimately improve patient outcomes and increase patient accessibility.”
If there has ever been a more inspirational and worthy story led by a man as passionately dedicated man as Steven Levine, I’m yet to see it. The Living Heart Project story pulled your heart strings and thanks to it, surgeons can do now do that virtually.