Human heart simulated on world's fastest supercomputer

Before the U.S. government cloaks the operations of the Sequoia supercomputer for classified nuclear arms analyses, scientists have tapped the world's fastest computer for an unprecedented simulation of the human heart. With the aid of the supercomputer, according to an HPC Wire report, researchers have been able to model the heart down to the cellular level and simulate how the organ would react to certain drugs.

The supercomputer has been performing simulations of the heart with a modeling program, Cardioid, from researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, HPC Wire reported. The computing power and capabilities of the modeling program have advanced heart modeling from simulations of a handful of heartbeats to thousands. It enables researchers to get closer to the real thing as they boost their capacity to capture activities in the heart at finer levels of detail and complexity.

Drugmakers have spent billions of dollars on studies to improve their understanding of the heart, and computer simulations offer a way for researchers to gauge the potential impacts of a compound before testing it in living subjects. Researchers believe that Cardioid could help them understand the activity and potential side effects of drugs for an inefficient heart-pumping condition known as an arrhythmia, which can trigger congestive heart failure and other medical problems.

"Observing the full range of effects produced by a particular drug takes many hours," Art Mirin, an LLNL computational scientist, noted, as quoted by HPC Wire. "With Cardioid, heart simulations over this timeframe are now possible for the first time."

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