Biomedical: Respiratory System
Compared to other areas in computational biomechanics, like the circulatory or the muscosceletal system, research on the respiratory system is only at its infancy. This is quite astonishing, especially when considering the huge impact a better understanding of respiratory mechanics can offer. One reason might be the complexity of this system – but on the other hand it is exactly this complexity involving multiple fields and scales that makes research in this area so fascinating for experts in computational mechanics.
A sound standing “virtual lung model” could be a valuable tool for various applications ranging from the better understanding of lung diseases to progress on individual therapeutic approaches. Our current main motivation is to develop new protective mechanical ventilation strategies for patients suffering from the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Heterogeneity of the ARDS lung predisposes patients towards a number of further complications which are collectively termed ventilator-associated lung injuries (VALI) and deemed one of the most important factors in the pathogenesis of ARDS. VALI mainly occurs at the alveolar level of the lungs in terms of a local overstraining of lung tissue. Since mechanical stimulation of cells can result in the release of proinflammatory mediators – a phenomenon commonly called mechanotransduction – secondary inflammatory injuries often directly follow, possibly starting a cascade of events leading to sepsis or multi-organ failure.
To gain essential insights into the involved phenomena, we are developing advanced computational models of the respiratory system (see below). Although developed against the background of VALI, our approaches are mainly built up from "first principles" and are, therefore, by no means restricted to this particular application. Hence, we believe that our models can promote further understanding of the lung under healthy and diseased conditions. Thus, they will be valuable for investigating a variety of interesting problems and answering a number of questions brought up by the medical and biological community.
Models for individual parts of the lung
Overall lung models
A part of this work was done by our former members Anna Birzle, Andrew Comerford, Mahmoud Ismail, Sophie Rausch, Christian Roth, and Lena Yoshihara,
Please find publications on this topic here.