Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo and a Fujitsu research group have developed a simulator of a beating heart based on mathematically modeled operating principles of molecular motors. This research links molecules on the micro-level and the heart on the macro-level, and enables high-level predictions that can be used both for basic medical research and clinical practice.
Use of the computational power of the K computer allows direct analysis of motion of individual molecules to simulate contraction of the heart on a macro level. Molecules do not act independently; instead their movements are continually influenced by other molecules around them. Also, the shape of the heart changes during every beat. This deformation in turn changes the behavior of the molecules. So, this simulation ties together the macro and the micro worlds to simulate how phenomena on the molecular level affect the beating of the heart, and how this beating in turn affects individual molecules. The computational methods to precisely model these interactions that was made possible by the K computer allow us to see new relations never seen before.
Going forward, the simulations will model mechanisms by which molecular mutations lead to cardiac disease contributing to basic medical research. Efforts are also underway to leverage simulations to benefit individual patients by selecting the best options for treatment, such as by simulating different cardiac surgeries.