A research paper by Somerville alumnus Dr Cristian Trovato (2017, Computer Science) has been selected by the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology as one of the best of 2020.
Based on research conducted for his Doctoral studies, Cristian’s work showed how computer modelling could be used to understand specialised Purkinje cells in the heart. Chosen from over 200 entrants, the journal judged Cristian’s work to have had an immediate impact on the field.
Cardiac Purkinje cells are a special type of cell found the heart which are particularly sensitive to electrical signals and help to ensure that your heart beats correctly. Despite their importance, researchers are held back by the challenging procedures required to isolate the cells, and the limited insights that can be gleaned from animal Purkinje cells due to the considerable differences between species in heart structure.
By developing a new computer model of the cells named Trovato2020, Cristian can help cardiology researchers to overcome these limitations and gain new insights in to how abnormalities in the heartbeat can develop. Simulations made using the model have been able to accurately reproduce existing experimental recordings; explain the mechanisms underlying pro-arrhythmic abnormalities (when a part of your heart malfunctions as a side-effect of anti-arrythmia medication); and successfully simulate electrical propagation in Purkinje fibers.
The Trovato2020 model is open source and freely available on the CellML Repository as well as in several formats (Matlab, C++ and Fortran) in the Oxford Computational Cardiovascular Science Team website.