Assembling the virtual human

Jun 29, 2009

It could mean the end of animal testing and eventually even clinical patient drug trials. The Virtual Physiological Human is a 21st century pan-European project that's gaining momentum and takes a major step forward this week at The University of Nottingham.

The University is one of 13 institutions involved in the VPH initiative which aims to create a methodological and technological framework to deliver patient-specific computer models for the personalised and predictive healthcare of the future. Once established it will allow a wide range of academic, clinical and industrial researchers to investigate the human body as a single complex system. They will be able to use the VPH network's expanding database of computer simulation data to develop better diagnosis and treatment methods.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have been charged with developing a postgraduate VPH training programme which will be truly unique, cross-disciplinary and will involve periods of study for this kind of collaborative scientist at universities across Europe. A week-long study group to investigate one aspect of VPH science takes place on campus this week when mathematicians and medical researchers are working together to use mathematical modelling to suggest solutions to currently unsolved biomedical problems.

Study groups are workshops promoting the interaction between modellers and academic and industrial researchers working within life sciences. The latter two are invited to present technical problems for study in intensive workshops with leading mathematical modellers from the academic community. This week the groups will try to model various problems relating to regenerative medicine, with a focus on epithelial (membrane) cells in the skin, bladder, lungs, gut, heart and breast. It's hoped the groups will come up with new theoretical models which could result in journal publications, and eventually funded research projects in their own right.

Dr Bindi Brook of the University's School of Mathematical Sciences said: "This study group is one of the prototypes for the sort of collaborative study which will be a key feature of our new VPH training programme. The course will allow postgraduates to train within the VPH network of European universities and, crucially, to access and contribute to a virtual VPH academy online."

The Virtual Physiological Human is an initiative that's being funded to the tune of 72 million Euros by the EU. It could revolutionise medical science in the 21st century. Central to its success will be to maximise the return from the vast quantities of patient-specific data that is emerging in the post-genomic era. Advances in computing and information technology have the potential to deliver tailored clinical treatments based on simulation of the genetic profile of the patient. And this is not just a long-term goal. It's expected that substantial advances in this field will be made over the next ten years in a range of diseases, from cancer to HIV/AIDS.

More information: Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence website: www.vph-noe.eu/

Source: University of Nottingham (news : web)

Explore further: Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, 'alternative' medicines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Virtual human in HIV drug simulation

Jan 29, 2008

The combined supercomputing power of the UK and US ‘national grids’ has enabled UCL (University College London) scientists to simulate the efficacy of an HIV drug in blocking a key protein used by the lethal virus. The ...

Virtual human puts HIV drug to test

Mar 07, 2008

Harnessing the power of supercomputing, ‘grid’ technology and using a so-called ‘virtual physiological human’ (VPH), European researchers have simulated how well an HIV drug blocks a key protein in the lethal virus. ...

Mathematicians help unlock secrets of the immune system

Oct 09, 2007

A group of scientists, led by mathematicians, has taken on the challenge of building a common model of immune responses. Their work will radically improve our understanding of the human immune system by allowing all the scientific ...

Microsoft invests in EuroScience

Feb 03, 2005

At the Government Leaders Forum today, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the EuroScience Initiative in his keynote to over 500 government leaders and public officials. The initiative aims ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0