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Heart disease: its’ a terrifying reality for many millions of people today, and is the leading cause of death. An estimate from the World Health Organization pinned cardiovascular diseases as responsible for 30% of all global deaths in 2008 — that’s 17.3 million people. Costs for heart care are at an all-time high, and research into medical care tends to be both expensive and invasive.

A major, multidisciplinary undertaking is bringing together a huge community — consisting of medical researchers, practitioners, device 3DS_2014_Logotype_BlueSteel_RGBmakers, and industry regulators — into a project to create realistic 3D models of the human heart. More than 30 member organizations, including over 100 cardiovascular specialists, are participating in the project. The Living Heart Project has at its own heart a 3D heart model, which is powered by  Dassault Systèmes‘ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The Living Heart Project was announced this past May, and has seen some impressively fast progress, especially from Dassault Systèmes. The first 3D heart simulator moved quickly into beta test, and the efficacy of the device — a novel valve assist device — was validated. The 3D heart simulations are created utilizing echocardiogram, MRI, and CT scan images, as well as cardiac research data, and seeks a noninvasive way to understand the heart’s behavior.lhp-logo-190x150

“Dassault Systèmes has been involved in many simulation projects over the years – from automobile design simulations that help avoid serious injury, to studies done alongside leading researchers that study the impact of contact sports on the brain. The collaboration among multidisciplinary experts that led to the Living Heart Project ensures it will have a lasting impact,” said Scott Berkey, CEO, SIMULIA Dassault Systèmes. “With the contribution of leading researchers, medical practitioners and regulatory agencies, this project is another example of how our 3DEXPERIENCE platform can help improve product, nature and life.”

The latest announcement concerning this undertaking was made just today: Dassault Systèmes has signed a five-year collaborative research agreement with the FDA. The agreement with the US regulatory agency will initially target cardiovascular devices used to treat heart disease — in particular, the testing paradigms are to be developed for the devices’ insertion, placement, and performance. Pacemaker leads are among the devices to be studied.

“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,” said Jean Colombel, Vice President, Life Sciences at Dassault Systèmes.

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The Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) is a part of the Living Heart Project’s development team, seeking to quicken the approval process of medical devices while spurring innovation, enhancing patient reliability, and lessening costs. Each member’s intellectual property is protected throughout the process, thanks to the technology crowdsourcing model in use.

The collaborative approach to this health-critical technology seems to be coming right along. 3D modeling brings the technology right to the fingertips of those who need it to understand to the best extent the intricacies of the human cardiovascular system. Thanks to this noninvasive approach, research can continue without requiring any difficulties on the part of patients.

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Let us know your thoughts on the Living Heart Project and its potential impact on the outlook for cardiovascular research in the forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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