With Health EU, everyone will have an avatar to manage their health
In the future, will people have virtual twins to help monitor their health? That is what Health EU is proposing.
This major project, led by a consortium headed by EPFL, is in the running to be a European Union FET Flagship project. If successful, it will receive €1 billion in financing over ten years.
What if everyone had their own medical avatar – a virtual replica of themselves featuring their own personal data – that could improve the way their health is managed and the way they are treated if they fall ill? That is the bold proposal put forward by the Health EU project, whose tagline is “Human avatars to prevent and cure diseases”. This international project, led by a consortium* headed by EPFL in collaboration with the Institute for Human Organ and Disease Model Technologies based in the Netherlands, recently applied to become a FET Flagship. FET Flagship is a prestigious multi-disciplinary research program run by the European Union that offers €1 billion in funding over ten years.
“What we are proposing is a totally revolutionary way of handling health issues,” explains Adrian Ionescu, a professor of nanoelectronics at EPFL and one of the project’s originators. With its avatar-based system, Health EU aims to achieve improved disease prevention, early diagnosis, more accurate monitoring and customized, targeted administration of medicines and treatments, especially for increasingly common diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular, chronic and neurodegenerative disorders.
“We are offering a possible solution to problems faced by the current healthcare model, which is not economically sustainable because of the extremely high costs it entails,” adds Professor Ionescu.
The project’s core idea is to combine customized medicine with digital technology, using the latest technological developments such as connected objects, artificial intelligence and the concept of “digital twins”. In principle, a digital twin is a digital replica of an object that can be used to test and measure the effect of variables, processes and scenarios that would be impossible to apply in the real world. The approach is already being used in aerospace and astrophysics and in the automotive industry. However, it has not yet been applied to human beings. «Health EU’s vision combining digital and physical human avatars is taking digital twins to an unprecedented level» remarks Chris Van Hoof, senior director of Connected Health Solutions & IMEC Fellow.
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