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INTERN DAILY
3D Model Of Blood Flow By Supercomputer Predicts Heart Attacks

Left coronary arteries showing the ramification of vessels and the red blood cells flowing in one subregion. The longest coronary arteries have a size of few centimeters and the red blood cells have a linear size of about 10 microns

Nanotech breath sensor detects diabetes and potentially serious complication
Scientists are reporting development and successful testing of a sensor that can instantly tell whether someone has Type I diabetes. It could also be used by emergency room doctors to determine whether a patient has developed diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially serious complication that happens when diabetics do not take enough insulin. Someday the technology may also be used by diabetics, in their own homes, to determine whether they need more insulin. A report on the sensor appears in ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

Professor Sotiris E. Pratsinis and colleagues at ETH Zurich in Switzerland explain that everyone has a little bit of acetone in their breath. But people with Type I diabetes release unusually high levels of the chemical when they exhale. If they have diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous buildup of acetone in the blood, they exhale even-larger amounts of acetone. Pratsinis' team built an extremely sensitive acetone detector by directly depositing from a flame plume a thin film of semiconducting, mixed ceramic nanoparticles between a set of gold electrodes. The device acts like an electrical resistor.

When it gets hit with a puff of acetone-filled air, its resistance drops, allowing more electricity to pass between the electrodes. If a diabetic were to breathe on the sensor, its resistance would suddenly drop. When a healthy person exhales onto the nanoparticles, their resistance will not change very much. Pratsinis' team found this new sensor can detect acetone in extremely moist air, an attribute that is critical for any breath test. It is sensitive enough to detect acetone at 20 parts per billion, a concentration that is 90 times lower than the level at which it can be found in the breath of diabetic patients.

by Staff Writers
Lausanne, Switzerland (SPX) May 27, 2010
EPFL Laboratory of Multiscale Modeling of Materials, in Switzerland, has developed a flowing 3D model of the cardiovascular system that should allow for predictions of certain heart diseases before they become dangerous.

The supercomputer Cadmos, installed at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in August of 2009, has bared one of its first fruits: the Laboratory of Multiscale Modeling of Materials has recently developed a computer program the accurately models the complex system of blood flow in the heart for individuals at an unheard-of precision of ten millionths of a meter or ten microns.

These individual-specific models-which take up to six hours using a supercomputer-will allow for a detailed study of the cardiovascular system and lead to early predictions of heart conditions such as arteriosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries that often leads to heart attacks. Plans are in the works to develop the program for individual PCs for clinical applications within the next two to three years.

"When studying the blood flow in arteries, one has to take into account a vast number of different fluid interactions that happen on different time scales and of different sizes," explains Simone Melchionna, who heads the project. Based on a detailed heart scan, the simulation juggles over a billion different variables in order to represent a fluid containing ten-million red blood cells.

Using another supercomputer based in Juelich (Germany), the research team has achieved even greater precision with their program that allows for the visualization of the interaction of plasma, red blood cells and even micro-particles. "We can evaluate all of the elements and how they interact with each other; move, stagnate and whirl and turn over each other," Melchionna adds.

This precision will allow for the detection of the first signs of arteriosclerosis when the plaques begin to form on the artery's walls and disturb blood flow. This condition, which creates dangerous rigidity and blockage of these vital vessels, is the main cause of heart attacks-responsible for 12% of deaths in the world.

This mortality rate increases to 16% in richer countries, where greasy and cholesterol rich foods are more common. Early detection of the forces leading to arteriosclerosis is one element in the strategy developed by EPFL and the universities of Geneva and Lausanne to rationalize the investment in a supercomputer of 16,000 microprocessors-the equivalent of 8,000 PCs.



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