Taking visualisation of medical research to higher levels
Animation has been used for many years to present the results of scientific research. Demcon nymus3D is an internationally recognised specialist in this area and has recently taken its next step in a project for Harvard University. This concerned research into the formation of the pancreas. Luke Whitehorn from Demcon nymus3D developed a model for the animation of this, which resulted in new scientific insights. That is the reason for him being co-author of a recent publication in the highly regarded journal Cell.
Demcon nymus3D visualises complex research and complex products for Cambridge University, Duke University, CERN, Institut Pasteur and countless other institutes and companies across the world. ‘The challenge is to understand a topic in a short time and to distil a clear story from this,’ stated Managing Director Vincent Bos.
As example, Bos mentioned the assignment for Professor Douglas Melton’s Stam Cell and Regenerative Biology department at Harvard University. In that group, Nadav Sharon and colleagues conduct research into the pancreas, the human organ that plays a key role in the development of diabetes. In particular, he studies the embryonic development of the so-called islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. In 2017, the Harvard researchers asked Demcon nymus3D to produce a visualisation of this. However, the process proved to be too complex to animate using existing technologies.
To be able to produce a realistic animation of the growth mechanism, Senior Scientific Animator Luke Whitehorn from Demcon nymus3D also needed to really understand this. That is why he developed a model that describes the interaction between cells in such a way that a few cells develop into complex structures. This appears to correctly describe the morphology – form and structure – of the islets; the animation was a good match for the laboratory measurements. The Demcon nymus3D model inspired researcher Sharon to conduct new measurements in the laboratory. The model proved to have predictive value for the growth mechanism and contributed to the understanding of this, giving the model scientific value, resulting in it becoming part of a scientific publication. An article written by Nadav Sharon and colleagues appeared in the highly regarded journal Cell in mid-January, with Luke Whitehorn as co-author.
Demcon nymus3D has already produced many animations for biomedical research, including various animations for Professor Melton’s Harvard group. However, Bos and Whitehorn are proud to point out that this is the first time this has resulted in a high-level co-publication. ‘The research is of a fundamental nature and will not directly help prevent or cure diabetes, but it does provide insights into these important structures in the pancreas. Communicating research results leads to new questions, which can result in new scientific insights. We have even developed the necessary tools to model these types of complex systems. No other animation studio in the world has done something comparable.’
About Demcon nymus3D
Demcon nymus3D (ten employees) focuses on illustration and 3D animation for clear and visual high-quality communication of complex concepts. The visualisation company has been part of the Demcon Group since 2015 and works with renowned national and international scientists. Demcon nymus3D also contributes to Demcon projects and produces product visualisations for industrial clients.
Demcon (600 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products and systems that offer solutions for the technical and societal challenges of clients and end users across the world. The focus areas are high-tech systems, medical systems, industrial systems & vision, optomechatronic systems and robotic systems. Demcon has locations in Enschede, Best, Delft, Groningen, Oldenzaal and Münster (Germany).
For more information, please contact Renée Koekkoek op Munsterhuis, Public Relations at Demcon, tel +31 (0)88 11 52 000 or +31 (0)6 52 63 11 85, email@example.com.
Nadav Sharon et al. (incl Luke James Whitehorn), ‘A Peninsular Structure Coordinates Asynchronous Differentiation with Morphogenesis to Generate Pancreatic Islets’, Cell (2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.12.003