New cyber heart model recalls da Vinci’s sketches

By Michael Kahn

LONDON (Reuters) - Five centuries after Leonardo da Vinci’s intricate drawings transformed understanding of the human heart, a new computer model promises to do the same for modern-day cardiac care, experts say.

The model — so realistic its four chambers beat in the same asymmetrical rhythm on screen as does a real heart in the human body — is the work of three British doctors who say the creation will improve both training and care during surgery.

The three-dimensional model’s intricate details coupled with life-like animation that doctors can easily manipulate make the cyber heart unique, said Sue Wright, an anesthesiologist at the Heart Hospital in London who helped design the heart.

“We can slice it, spin it around and look at it from any angle. We have reproduced the timing of the human heart beat to within 20 milliseconds,” she said in an interview.

The new model will lead to better care, said Robert Anderson, a heart structure expert at University College London.

The Italian master’s drawings showed the heart was a muscle with four chambers, he noted. They also suggested that arteries could clog up over a lifetime, posing a risk to health.

“At the time, da Vinci’s sketches opened up a new approach to the understanding of cardiac structure,” said Anderson, also a visiting professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. “The new model is just as important, since it sets a new paradigm for understanding cardiac structure.”

The pharmaceutical industry is also eyeing virtual models of the human body as a quicker and more cost-effective way to predict how developmental drugs may work in different  Continued…

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