Our bodies are exquisitely complex machines, getting the best out them and fixing their problems is a challenge that we seek to master, all of us. So, how can we get the best out of our bodies? Imagine a virtual human, not made of flesh and bone, one made of bits and bytes and not just any human, but a virtual version of you, accurate at every scale from the way your heart beats down to the letters of your DNA code.
Many drugs only work well on some people and can cause serious side effects in others. The reason is variations in DNA, our genetic differences. We understand how these DNA differences change the building blocks of your body, the proteins, and so through a virtual human we could simulate in a computer how drugs interact with your unique protein makeup. By testing drugs on your virtual body, your doctor may eventually be able to test a wide range of drugs and select precisely the right one to suit you.
Virtual humans could help doctors to plan risky surgery too they could be used to work out how to reach an aneurysm deep in the brain that is at risk of rupture, which could cause a stroke. Surgeons can then try out the best treatment or implant to suit the location and shape of that particular aneurysm, they could even double-check that the implant would not cause problems such as clotting before they try it out on you.
With the power of virtual humans, the medical possibilities are limitless. For these and more examples, check out our video embedded below.
In the first year of the CompBioMed Centre of Excellence, we worked hard to collect computer simulations from our researchers to produce this stunning film which explains the ultimate goal of our project. The film was premiered at the London Science Museum on 27th September 2017 during a Lates event.
Computational biomedicine is the name given to the use of computer-based tools and approaches to simulate and model the human body in health and disease. In the European Union, this new science has become synonymous with the concept of the virtual physiological human (VPH), an initiative that focuses on a methodological and technological framework that, once established, will enable collaborative investigation of the human body as a single complex system.
CompBioMed is a European Commission H2020 funded Centre of Excellence focused on the use and development of computational methods for biomedical applications. We have users within academia, industry and clinical environments and are working to train more people in the use of our products and methods.
The cutting edge of Computational Biomedicine harnesses computer simulations that are conducted on massively powerful supercomputers. The tremendous power of these machines allows larger and more complex biological systems to be simulated, yielding better, more accurate, and more meaningful output. CompBioMed is working with some of the world’s largest supercomputers, including the largest of them all, Summit.
Promotional films before the screening of Virtual Humans film were made featuring an interview with Peter Coveney, Coordinator of CompBioMed (left video), and the 4 principle investigators that spoke during the launch of the film (right video). The interviews were undertaken with Roger Highfield (Director of external affairs at the Science Museum)
Here our Technical Manager, Marco Verdicchio, explains the theory and practice of using Supercomputers.
Virtual Humans – film festivals
Since it’s release the film has been featured at international film festivals and won a number of awards.
- BSC stars in Dan Brown’s Origin - In Dan Brown’s fifth instalment of his Robert Langdon series, the hero finds himself in Barcelona whilst searching for a cryptic password and evading an enemy, determined to kidnap him. As part of this thrilling story they mention Barcelona Supercomputing Centre several times and also draw attention to the beautiful Marenostrum supercomputer. In the extract…