R ecently I attended an event that reminded me why I’ve built my business in large part around the fields of biomedicine and healthcare. At a lovely hotel venue in Menlo Park, California, scientists from Johns Hopkins University Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences described how their research projects are laying the foundation for a new kind of personalized healthcare with radically improved outcomes.
One particular project — computer modeling to build a virtual heart — captured my attention, especially because a dear friend of mine is suffering from a life-threatening fast heart rate, or ventricular tachycardia. Hopkins scientist Natalia Trayanova is creating a system that would build a three-dimensional model of an individual patient’s heart and display it’s unique structural quirks and disease. If her methodology is one day adopted in the clinic, it could quickly target the specific area in a patient’s heart that needs treatment, avoiding an arduous 4 to 12-hour invasive analytic procedure, improving the patient’s well-being, and significantly reducing healthcare costs.
While biomedicine is not new — the ancient Chinese used moldy soybean curds as an antibiotic to treat boils — the pace of biomedical progress has quickened exponentially in just the last 50 years, with possibilities for medicine that are nothing short of thrilling.
Trayanova says, “A poet might say that each human being’s heart is a unique mystery. (But) there may come a time when all patients with heart conditions…have their virtual hearts tucked into their electronic medical records, which doctors can then use to plan their treatments.”
The poet in me still thinks there is mystery in each of our hearts. Still, I look forward to the day when my friend’s cardiologist will open her medical record, see her virtual heart with all it’s quirks, and know how, with little fuss, to fix it.