Computational simulations have the potential to improve our understanding of physiological phenomena by reproducing them in a simplified and strictly controlled environment, giving us insights on which parameters have the most influence on the process. In this case, my aim is to simulate the healing of a joint defect comprising bone and cartilage in order to assess the role played by strain. Cells of different types are shown as pixels of different colours: light blue for MSCs; green for Chondrocytes; orange for Osteoblasts; and red for Fibroblasts.
Method: Cellular behaviour is simulated by means of a Matlab code; FEM analysis is performed in Abaqus.
Expectations: The coloured pixels (the cells) should arrange themselves in the area similarly to the in vivo situation. The final image should closely resemble a histology section of a damaged joint after the healing process, with Fibroblasts (red) mostly present at the highly strained articular interface, a cartilage phase (green) soon after and bone (orange) forming at the border of the defect.
Failure: The final image looks like some pop art piece, with pixels arranged in regular stripes whose order is independent of the strain condition in the specific part of the area. We would never see something like that in vivo! This means that my algorithm fails to reproduce the physiological process.
Feeling: Growing frustration (this is try number… I lost count).
Learning Outcome: Debugging, debugging, debugging…