February 19, 2009 Francois T. Le Floch (Aero/Astro)
Design of a numerical model for simulation of the blood microcirculation, and study of sickle cell disease
Blood clots and strokes observed in sickle cell disease are believed to be a direct consequence of chaotic dynamics of sickling red blood cells in capillary vessels. Because of the complexity of blood dynamics in small vessels, most attempts to describe mathematically sickle blood have used extensively empirical models combined with largely simplified physical descriptions of the geometry and dynamics of the red cells. However, these models have had limited impact on medical research, and numerous results seem to suffer from the large mathematical resctrictions of the resulting models. In order to investigate red cell dynamics with modern computing capabilities, and reconcile older models with analytical implications and therapeutic orientations, this doctoral research proposes to design a rigorous numerical model combining fluid dynamics, red cell membrane deformation mechanics and oxygen transfer from the red blood cells to the surrounding tissue. The objective is to develop a model that would be the most complete description of the blood circulation in capillary vessels, with a large range of parameters available to describe a variety of situations. With the results obtained, major trends of the blood flow and red cells behavior will be qualitatively and quantitatively identified. Comparison with older models will be used to validate the model, and results will be interpreted with a strong focus on the actual physical phenomena. An original set of assumptions will be used to perform a pilot study on sickle cell dynamics. Finally, the successful development of a simulation tool is expected to open new perspectives for research on potential therapies, such as blood networks analysis, studies on oxygen supply or drug simulation.