Researchers have built a computer model to help understand the progression of emphysema, reports Futurity.

“Even if you quit smoking, emphysema keeps progressing, though at a lower rate,” says Suki. “The reason is that when something ruptures in the lung, the tension that element carried is going to be distributed around. The other elements will start to carry a little bit higher force, so they are at a higher risk of failure. And that makes a progressive feedback.”

To better understand this process, the researchers built a simple computer program, called an elastic spring network model, to mimic lungs with emphysema.

“It’s not a super complicated model,” says Mondoñedo, who says it represents the connections and tensions between sections of lung tissue as hexagons of interconnected springs. “We can go through and ‘break’ the springs, and we get a new configuration that represents the progression of emphysema,” he says.

Mondoñedo and Suki ran the computer model in different ways, allowing the emphysema to progress, then “intervening” with various treatment—such as surgery—at different times, then allowing the model to progress further and quantifying the results.

Get the whole story at