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The skeleton of the European Virtual Human is “made in Italy”

In 2007 the European Commission (EC) launched a new initiative on Research called “Virtual Physiological Human” which aims to develop a new generation of medical technologies, capable of generating patient-specific computer models that predict the disease status, its evolution over time, or the best treatment for the particular patient’s conditions.

The selection was severe: of 300 proposals the EC received only 15 were funded; of them, the only one dealing with on musculoskeletal apparatus was submitted by the international consortium VPHOP, coordinated by the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute (Bologna, Italy).

“The VPHOP project” – says Marco Viceconti, coordinator of this international initiative “in the next four years will develop the next generation of technology for diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, one of the most serious diseases which may affect the musculoskeletal apparatus, nowadays”.

In 2007 about four million osteoporotic bone fractures costed the European health system more than € 30 billions. This figure could double by 2050, if we do not improve the current standards of care. (Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation

“The first generation of computer models is currently entering in clinical use; the main companies in this sector are investing in the instrumentation for the evaluation of bone risk fracture based on technologies that the research laboratories developed in the past years. Meanwhile, VPHOP will develop, validate and deploy the next generation of technologies for 100% personalised healthcare”.

The 19 public and private organisations that form the VPHOP consortium, such as Philips Healthcare or the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, gathered for the project kick-off at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute last Sept 8th-9th. 60 experts in informatics, bioengineering, medical physics, and medical research met to plan this ambitious project.

“Each of the partner organisations has already a technology prototype that represents the worldwide excellence in that particular domain. The aim of the project is to create, with all these technologies, an integrated solution to be used in the clinical practice and through which it will be possible to gather all available patient information (life-style, physical activity level, neuromotor condition, bone type and shape, status of the diseased tissue, cellular activity, presence of specific molecules) into a unifying computer model capable of predicting on one side the fracture risk with an excellent accuracy, on the other one the effects that the various treatment options will have on that particular patient”.

Annalisa Bandieri | alfa
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