This is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals with the objective of creating an "in silico" (computer simulated) replica of the human body. The reason? It will enable the virtual testing of bespoke treatments.
According to the university, the Virtual Physiological Human will "transform the economics and practicalities of modern medical treatment and medical research".
The Institute was founded a year ago and a showcase of talks and demonstration (on May 8th) chartered the progress made. These included:
- 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 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.
What is the Insigneo Institute exactly?
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 a 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.