Philips euHeart Computer Modelling Project Aims to Build a Virtual Heart
Philips Electronics announced at the end of August 2008, that it was going to lead a consortium, with the express goal of developing a virtual reality heart simulator sophisticated enough to be used in patient care.
The euHeart consortium aims to develop advanced computer models of the human heart that can be personalised to patient-specific conditions using clinical data from various sources, such as CT (Computed Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, measurements of blood flow and blood pressure in the coronary arteries (which feed the heart muscles) and ECGs (Electrocardiograms).
Using the patient's own medical data in other words, to construct a 3D, working representation of their heart, in its current state. This will allow surgeons to examine the precise nature of a problem both in unprecedented detail without opening the patient up, and, to see how a problem such as a hole in the heart deforms with each beat, thus identifying the critical junctions to suture tightest.
The plan is for the models to be multi-level, and to mimic the behaviour of any given patient's heart at the at molecular, cellular, tissue and organ-levels.
They will also incorporate clinical knowledge about how cardiovascular disease disturbs the correct functioning of the heart at these levels. As a result, it may be possible to develop simulation tools that doctors can use to predict the outcome of different types of therapy, and because the models will be personalised to individual patients, the therapy's effectiveness on a given patient, will be known almost before the treatment starts.
"euHeart is a very exciting project that will bring together the latest advances in modelling and computing to improve the care of patients with heart disease," says Professor Reza Razavi, the Project's Clinical Co-ordinator who is also Professor of Paediatric Cardiovascular Science and Head of the Division of Imaging Sciences at King's College London (London, United Kingdom). "It may ultimately allow us to select and optimise the best treatment for individual patients."
"The development of computer models that integrate structural and functional information of the heart and then personalize it to individual patients is a mammoth task that will require the multi-disciplinary effort of researchers with strong know-how in biophysical modelling and image processing, clinical experts, and engineers in the device and imaging industries," commented Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare Research program. "In the euHeart project we are confident that we have brought together the necessary expertise and that we can make a real contribution to improving the treatment of one of the world's killer diseases".
Project just Getting Underway
No direct ancestor
euHeart will run for four years and has a budget of approximately EUR 19 million, of which approximately EUR 14 million will be provided by the European Union as part of the EU 7th Framework Program. The bulk of the remainder will be made up by Philips.