Futuristic gears

Meet Our Partners: Leaders in Simulation Technology And Engineering – Enginsoft

EnginSoft’s Research and Development Manager, Carla Baldasso, is the LifeSaver Project Coordinator.

An engineer with extensive experience in research projects, there is perhaps no one better equipped than Carla Baldasso to share how this company specialised in Computer-Aided-Engineering (CAE), and is helping the LifeSaver Project.

How exactly can a pioneering company in the field of engineering simulation help with creating and integrating a digital in silico/in vitro (bio-digital twin) system that aims to mimic the behaviour of the human placenta?

First, Baldasso tells us a little about the genesis of EnginSoft and its mission.

Enginsoft’s Decades-Long Mission

“We are a leader in simulation-based engineering and sciences, but first, we have to outline what a simulation is. What we aim for with our simulation technology is a faithful recreation of many physical phenomena. We can simulate anything, really. From the behaviour of a piece of an aircraft, a wing, for example, to the very refined movement of a clock mechanism or the fire and smoke propagation in the case of a fire. We have thousands of examples we could provide,” says Baldasso.

“EnginSoft was launched in 1984 when simulation technology was not so common. Computers back then were not powerful and complex enough to run comprehensive reproductions. At that time, we began with structural simulations; now, we can replicate a complete production line or predict the behaviour of complex systems with a multi-physical approach. We can act through the whole value chain, from the beginning of the design of a piece to its production process, to optimise its performance and life cycle. And our models can calibrate themselves, thanks to machine learning techniques, on the real parameters coming from sensors and predict the precise behaviour of a system in real-time.”

Year on year, EnginSoft’s growing list of projects and research shows that extensive data management, artificial intelligence, automated computer-aided engineering (CAE) processing in high-performance computing (HPC) environments and additive manufacturing are just a few of the new technologies that are changing the way healthcare is provided.

Baldasso believes these will impact the skills needed by the upcoming generation of healthcare professionals and academic researchers. Through a number of research initiatives that include non-medical universities with expertise in engineering technologies, the use of numerical simulations to address clinical problems has increased across Europe. This is where the multi-disciplinary marriage of EnginSoft’s knowledge and technology intersects with the LifeSaver Project.

How Enginsoft and The LifeSaver Project Collaborate

“EnginSoft’s DNA is in simulation, but in recent years we’ve been combining simulation with data science. This means taking data coming from simulations and from labs or any kind of sensor and then combining it all together with optimisation techniques. It is understanding the rules that stand behind phenomena and optimising accordingly,” Baldasso explains.

“That’s why we work with LifeSaver to develop a system that works in the lab and that, thanks to simulation techniques, can be calibrated as closely as possible to the behaviour of the placenta. That means simulating and understanding the fluid’s behaviour, such as blood, and the transportation mechanisms of chemicals such as antibiotics or microplastics, and anything that can penetrate the amniotic membrane. From the existing literature and research, we know how the placenta should work, we combine these different data sets, and we compare them with our virtual microfluidic system results in order to design the lab system as closely as possible to the real working conditions of the placenta.”

In the same way, science and biomedical technology intersect with the engineering principles that EnginSoft was created with, and Carla similarly considers herself to be the bridge of the various aspects of the project. For a woman who has built her career working on projects that can be considered cutting edge, what is it about this collaboration that Baldasso finds so exciting?

“From my point of view as an engineer, the noblest use of engineering technologies lies in helping human beings by improving their health and finding solutions for better well-being. What the LifeSaver Project really represents for me is the beginning of a revolution in the health sector where engineers, mathematicians, biologists and medical teams communicate and put their expertise together. It’s a multi-disciplinary grouping point that will only reach good results for human beings”, she says.

“With biomedical design and technological advancements, the medical world and the design/engineering world are becoming ever more closely linked. We can see this in the trends, and the projects that the European Commission is supporting, especially for the Green Deal calls to which the LifeSaver project belongs. These projects have different competencies which bring together a wealth of technical and scientific knowledge to understand how the body behaves.

“I am very excited about the potential of LifeSaver’s sustainability in testing. When the full system will be settled up, maybe this methodology could be applied also to other organs, for example, the liver and the heart. The placenta is particularly suitable for this type of testing as we know that animal placentas are incredibly different to human ones, and tests on pregnant women cannot ethically be performed, so the only way forward is to create a working simulation. But the impact could be huge if applied to other organs because by applying this methodology, we avoid testing on animals.”

Like everyone involved in the LifeSaver Project, Baldasso hopes to see real progress within this collaborative project very soon. She concludes:

“The results will come to us step by step; we already have the first virtual models, then, by the end of the year, we will optimise the full model, and I’m really eager to see the real microfluidic system working in the lab.”

Similar Posts