Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Virtual Physiological Human

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VPH
Deciding what treatment to give patients with serious illnesses, organ failure or even genetic disorders can present doctors with great difficulties. ICT provides medical professionals with tools to model and predict the effects of various treatment options in individual patients. EU research is helping to develop such new systems.
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The results of a given treatment in a particular patient are dependent on a wide range of factors, including age, physical condition, gender, fitness, previous exposure to illness and more. Today, using new biomedical techniques, scientists can identify even more factors such as genetic make-up, cell structures and neurological patterns.

Although medical professionals can now be much better informed on their patients’ conditions, such data also complicate their work. ICT tools can help gather these data and analyse them.

Simulating treatment outcome

The concept of a Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) is a sophisticated computer modelling tool, which compares observations of an individual patient and relates them to a vast dataset of observations of others with similar symptoms and known conditions. By processing all this information, the model can simulate the likely reaction of the individual patient to possible treatments or interventions.

Such personalised tools will improve the quality of treatment with better results and less side effects. Not only for patients who are already ill or injured, but models like this could also be used in preventive medicine, to predict occurrence or worsening of specific diseases in people at risk, for example through family history.