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Proposed health care system would incorporate computer models of patients


July 26, 2011

The IT Future of Medicine project is developing computer models of human patients, that would incorporate each person's genetic data

The IT Future of Medicine project is developing computer models of human patients, that would incorporate each person's genetic data

The way things currently stand in the field of medicine, doctors often have to try out a number of treatments on any one patient, before (hopefully) finding one that works. This wastes both time and medications, and potentially endangers the patients, as they could have negative reactions to some drugs. In the future, however, all that experimenting may not be necessary. The pan-European IT Future of Medicine (ITFoM) project, a consortium of over 25 member organizations, is currently developing a system in which every person would have a computer model of themselves, that incorporated their own genome. Doctors could then run simulations with that model, to see how various courses of treatment would work on the actual person.

Needless to say, technology needs to advance before it becomes relatively easy to map individuals' genomes. That's why ITFoM is currently vying for EUR 1 billion (US$1.5 billion) in funding, from the European Future and Emerging Technologies flagship scheme. It has already received EUR 1.5 million (US$2.2 million) in preliminary funding. Once the 10-year project builds momentum and more organizations join, ITFoM's organizers are predicting that it could become one of the largest collaborative endeavors since the Apollo space program.

Besides genetic data, each person's computer model would incorporate physiological information such as allergies, past and current health issues, and congenital defects - some of the same things that are currently part of their health records. Not only would this allow physicians to virtually test different drugs on specific patients, but they could also asses how changes in things such as diet and exercise might affect them.

Great strides will have to be made in areas such as high-speed data acquisition and evaluation, dynamic storage and processing of that data into mathematical models, and the development of systems that can learn, predict and inform. The implications, however, could be huge.

"The greatest opportunities to improve outcomes in medicine seem likely to come from personalized medicine, the biological sciences are providing the insights required to support informed personalization, and advanced computational techniques are essential for making sense of the data that informs decision making," said Professor Norman Paton, of ITFoM member the University of Manchester. "This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together advances from these three rapidly developing areas to bring about a paradigm shift in medical practice."

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

The bad part-This would be a great place to put work out data and also link it up with Facebook so that the authorities could look you up with one click! Lets put all of our information in one easy to see place so that our bosses can have an even greater say in our lives! The good part- it could end up showing how effectiveness other treatment modalities that do not include drugs. It could prove once and for all that where you live determines your health because of environmental and demographic factors. We could see the price to society that comes from toxic sites and maybe even learn about the health implications of truly healthy dietary and lifestyle choices...

I think people would be willing to share their data if it were used for the good of us all.

Carlos Grados

This is NO paradigm shift, but the building of taller and taller buildings on the same old rotten foundation. Modern medicine is WRONG because the whole germ theory is wrong. Our relationship with microorganism is a co-operative one, and not an adversary one. Check out pleomorphism.

It is amazing how brainwashed we are when it comes to modern medicine. If the result of our transportation industry is the same as modern medicine, no one will ride in a car or fly in a plane. Can you imagine an automobile engineer blaming the crash on \"bad luck\"? Yet, such practice is common in medicine. What people don\'t realise is that diseases are \"incurable\" only because those doctors don\'t know how to cure it. Remember, it is the \"result\" that counts, and NOT the \"reason\" why it cannot be done.


I find it strange that the european union has such vast amounts of money to throw around when so many of its members are so close to financial collaps.

I applaud the idea of using computer moddeling to do experiments. Maybe they should have done something simmilar for the LHC.

The day scientists no longer have to complete their testing in the real world and can do all of their experimentation in a virtual one they will be able to complete testing instantly and will be able to setup experiments just by thinking of them at no financial cost to the public.

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