Hovering Through the Human Heart

By Daniel R. Matlis

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Dassault Systèmes’ analyst conference at the company’s headquarters in Vélizy, France, just outside Paris. There, I was briefed by company executives on Dassault’s Life Sciences strategy.

My most memorable experience at the conference was that of hovering through the human heart.  While Dassault scientists have not yet devised a way to miniaturize matter by shrinking individual atoms, like in Fantastic Voyage, they have achieved the next best thing.

“Put on this special 3D goggles, hold this joystick and stand right here” said Jean Colombel, Vice President of Life Sciences at Dassault Systèmes.

Then it happens: I am hovering in a 3D virtual Operating Room. In front of me, on the operating table, is a patient. As I get closer, I can see the different systems making up the human body. I grab the cardiovascular system and navigate to the heart.

I am not talking about the “Giant Heart” at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, but rather a comprehensive 3D model, capturing the electrical, mechanical and physiological behavior of the heart in the most realistic and vivid way.

This 3D simulation model of a human heart is a result of the “Living Heart Project.”  The project aims to advance the development of safe and effective cardiovascular products and treatments by uniting engineering, scientific, and biomedical expertise to translate cutting edge science into improved patient care. The team is creating validated 3D virtual models to launch the next frontier in personalized patient care.

At the center of the project is Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The platform enables medical researchers to use sophisticated modeling and simulation software to collate and capitalize on vast stores of biological data and generate new insights about the complex systems and physiological interactions of the human body.

These advancements in modeling and simulation technologies are allowing medical researchers to create computational models of complex human systems such as the heart and brain. Using patient data and simulation-based predictive computational techniques, researchers can simulate, predict, and understand the impact of specific treatments on a patient without the need for additional invasive diagnostic procedures.

Dassault Systèmes expects that this type of realistic human simulation will become a valuable educational and translational tool to spur research innovation. The company also anticipates that it will lead to accelerated regulatory approval cycles, reduced development costs for new and more personalized devices and enable early diagnoses to improve patient outcomes.

Dassault Systèmes’ analyst conference truly changed my perception of the firm from a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software company to an organization focused on revolutionizing Healthcare and Life-Science through the 3D Experience.

This commitment was a key theme of the vision presented by Bernard Charlès, President & CEO, and elaborated by Monica Menghini, EVP, Corporate Strategy, Industry and Marketing. It was also clear from my interactions with Jean Colombel, Vice President of the Life Sciences Industry, and Patrick Johnson, VP R&D, Corporate Research,  that the firm is investing heavily in the Life Sciences industry.

In April, Dassault Systèmes acquired San Diego-based Accelrys, a leading provider of scientific innovation lifecycle management software for chemistry, biology and materials. Last month, the company rebranded Accelrys as BIOVIA. The new division aims to provide global, collaborative product lifecycle experiences to transform scientific innovation.

It will be interesting to see how Dassault Systèmes executes on its commitment to making its vision a reality for its customers.

We will continue to monitor and report as new developments in the “Living Heart Project” emerge.

Stay tuned…

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