Realheart continues to support alternative methods that reduce the need for animal testing. A study of virtual implants in animals, involving Realheart has been published in the international journal Artificial Organs. The study concludes, among other things, that virtual implants are an effective way to refine product design and reduce unnecessary suffering of animals.
A virtual implantation means that x-ray images are used to create a 3D model of the chest into which the 3D model of a heart pump can then be deployed virtually. This is an established method when planning heart pump surgeries on humans. However, it has never been used for animal testing. The purpose of the research project was to adapt Realheart’s prototype pump to fit calves for last year’s studies.
The project was a collaboration with researcher Dr Simon Sonntag, expert on simulations of heart pumps and virtual implants. The long-term goal was to create the opportunity for researchers and heart pump developers to reuse virtual models of animals to reduce development time and costs, and not least to reduce the number of live animals used in animal studies.
The study was recently published in the international journal Articifial Organs under the name “Virtual Implants to Transition from Pig to Calf Animal Models for a Total Artificial Heart” and demonstrates that virtual implants also work well in large animals and are an effective intermediate between drawing boards and live animal experiments to refine the product design and reduce unnecessary suffering.
Realheart’s CEO, Azad Najar, comments: “Working with Simon helped speed up preparations for last year’s calf surgeries. Virtual implantations before real implantations save both time and money, not least because it is now possible to share virtual models with other researchers around the world. And at the same time, it feels important to support more sustainable methods in the research world and thereby reduce the need for laboratory animals”.