Towards early detection of heart disease
Professor Kerry Hourigan’s team at Monash University are using the NCI supercomputer to develop tools for early detection of heart attacks and strokes.
“Cardiovascular disease is a major health problem and one of the biggest killers in Australia and worldwide,” Professor Hourigan says.
In the past year, the team have used more than 1.3 million hours of processing time on Raijin to perfect their novel simulation of blood flow within the body.
The goal is to measure, image and predict plaque formation and rupture, which can lead to cardiac arrests and strokes.
“The first step was to develop a physiologically relevant computer model to allow us to simulate the blood flow and the structural stresses around plaques,” Professor Hourigan explains.
“To do this, we had to identify all the physical parameters that need to be included: the geometry, elasticity and density of the blood vessels, as well as the viscosity and the density of the blood, the inlet and outlet flow rate and the heart beating frequency.”
The team performed experiments using mouse models in the lab to generate the necessary data, which they then plugged into the model.
Supported by ARC Discovery Grants, Professor Hourigan is also investigating the design of nanoparticles that can deliver beneficial molecules to the affected tissue.
“The NCI system is critical to the work of my team, and may provide a leverage to be more closely involved in some of the computing projects being undertaken internationally,” says Professor Hourigan.
“These techniques could lead downstream to innovative means of measuring, monitoring and controlling biophysical processes and developing novel artificial biomedical devices, such as bioartificial kidneys to replace present dialysis systems for patients with renal failure.”