Computer model of the human body to aid drug testing

7 May 2014

The University of Sheffield-based Insigneo Institute is developing an ‘in silico’ (computer simulated) model of the human body that will enable simulation of the effects of drugs and treatments on the human body.

An Institute founded one year ago at the University of Sheffield is showcasing the first phase of technology that will lead to the creation of a virtual human body and revolutionise global healthcare.

The Insigneo Institute at the University of Sheffield has the objective of creating an in silico (computer simulated) replica of the human body that will enable the virtual testing of bespoke treatments. 

When complete, the Virtual Physiological Human will transform the economics and practicalities of modern medical treatment and medical research.

The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) programme is backed by European Commission funding. 

Since 2007, approaching €220 million of EC funding has been targeted at collaborative in silico projects across Europe.

The VPH will enable collaborative investigation of the human body as a single complex system using integrated computer models of the mechanical, physical and biochemical functions of a living human body. 

The VPH will eventually lead to a better healthcare system, offering personalised care solutions, a more holistic approach to medicine and a preventative approach to treatment of disease. 

In time it will lead to treatment that sees the body as a single multi organ system rather than as a collection of individual organs. 

The showcase this week will feature a series of talks and demonstrations that chart progress to date, including:
• A presentation on imaging and computational modelling of Pulmonary disease
• A look at the emerging potential of the 21st century laboratory
• A presentation on VIRTUheart, which will transform the assessment and management of coronary artery disease
• A presentation on how the VPH will improve the prediction of fracture risk; and,
• A presentation on virtual, physiological and computational neuromuscular models for the predictive treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

“What we’re working on here will be vital to the future of healthcare”, said Dr Keith McCormack, who leads business development at the Institute. 

“Pressures are mounting on health and treatment resources worldwide. Candidly, without in silico medicine, organisations like the NHS will be unable to cope with demand. The Virtual Physiological Human will act as a software-based laboratory for experimentation and treatment that will save huge amounts of time and money and lead to vastly superior treatment outcomes.”

The Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine is a collaborative initiative between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It is a multi-disciplinary institute with a membership of more than 120 academics and clinicians who are collaborating to develop computer simulations of the human body and its disease processes.

These will be amalgamated eventually to create an holistic in silico model that will be used directly in clinical practice to improve diagnosis and treatment. 

When complete, the virtual human will be the most sophisticated application of computing technology in healthcare.  Sheffield is the UK’s main centre for this work.

On display at the Showcase will be an array of sophisticated 3D simulations of human physiology. 

There will also be updates from scientists and clinicians at the Institute.

The conference takes place on Thursday May 8th in Sheffield.

VPH works closely with the p-medicine project of which ecancer is a partner.

Source: The University of Sheffield