Sunday, June 4, 2023

How will the use of virtual twins enable advances in medicine?

What has been common in other fields for many years is becoming more and more a problem in Healthcare: simulation and models in the virtual world. The use of the so-called “virtual twin” allows to obtain valuable information to advance medicine, research and patient care.

Improving virtual health care

The use of 3D modeling and simulation to develop and test new products has already proven its effectiveness in many industries. In the automotive industry, for example, physical crash tests are rarely performed, as they are now performed extensively in a virtual environment. In medicine, however, it is still common to work with 2D images that do not provide the patient’s condition at all. Since the information is already available in digital form, the change to the 3D application of the technology is already working in other industries: it will allow virtual twins. This approach – or the digital mapping of real objects and processes – makes it possible, for example, to virtually analyze parts of the body, individual organs, or the entire human body. Furthermore, by training the models with data from real patients, the results can be simulated under the same conditions as real ones. One medical discipline that can benefit the most from the use of virtual twins is cardiology. In this context, the World Health Organization states that cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death worldwide. Modern methods of treatment and prevention are important pillars for improving patient care. To adapt the virtual twin technology to the human body, the Live Heart project (the first realistic 3D simulation of a full heartbeat, using a software solution) was launched.

An important contribution for research, centers and the health industry

We have been conducting science and research on the complex conditions of the human heart for decades, which significantly contributes to the success of the Living Heart Project. For example, the Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine has spent years doing research to better understand the human heart. Of particular concern is the interaction with other organs, drugs and treatment methods. Researchers are making a big contribution by describing almost the entire heart. Despite progress, many questions remain: heart failure, especially complex ones, and their behavior in interaction with medical devices and potential fiber replacements continue to require intensive research.

Companies in the medtech industry were already using the model during development. Through simulations, they can test new applications and devices directly on a live heart model. The results achieved by virtual test labs reduce costly and time-consuming prototyping and animal testing. Unlike animal models, the real heart can incorporate clinical data to more accurately represent the human heart over time. This allows for a faster development and approval process, helping to speed up the time to market for new medical devices.

Already in use

By all levels involved, the Living Heart Project has already had many successes. Private cardiac models are already used today to support clinical treatments, for example, in operations to correct severe heart defects in fetuses. Here, many virtual operations can be performed under the guidance of a doctor to determine the best approach. Medical students and hospital staff, and indeed patients, also benefit from Live Heart: for example, a virtual twin heart can be used in health education and training to train surgical procedures around the world. Furthermore, the development cycle and test suites can be accelerated and optimized thanks to simulation. For example, artificial heart valves can be better adapted to the disease conditions of groups or individual patients with the help of a virtual heart. In this way, many physical tests on animals or laboratory models are no longer necessary.

Next step: Virtual human body

What is being researched today can contribute to a new level of patient care and drug development or medical technology in the future. The work has already been done in other organs, such as the Live Lung and the Live Brain. The living brain, for example, is now being used to investigate neuronal disorders such as epilepsy. Also, in this case, brain operations can be simulated from each patient’s data, helping to understand this disease, predict attacks, or insert seizure types.

The virtual models of these complex organs are now so advanced that we can now move forward: to mix individual models and simulate the whole human body. This use of virtual twins paves the way for further development in personalized medicine. Thus, each patient, adapted to the body, genes and metabolism, has the opportunity to receive treatment for the nail.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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