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EU Project to Use Genomic Data to Create Virtual Patients

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new European Union-funded research consortium led by the Max Planck Society in Germany will use genomic and physiological data to create computational models of individual patients for use in personalized medicine applications.

Funded with €1.5 million ($2.1 million) from the EU, the Information Technology Future of Medicine (ITFOM) consortium will create 'virtual patients' based on computational models of individual people's genomic and physiological information, the European Commission said Tuesday.

Such a personalized medical technology would give doctors an "instant and in-depth knowledge of their patients' health needs and medical history" and could be used to avoid side-effects from prescribed medications, among other applications, the EC said.

The ITFOM project will seek to create "models of human pathways, tissues, diseases, and ultimately of the human as a whole," Hans Westerhoff, a professor at ITFOM partner the University of Manchester (UK), said in a statement.

This model technology, which will involve computing, storage, networking, and modeling tools, to will enable physicians to use a patient's individual genome to inform every state of disease management, including diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up, according to the EC.

Westerhoff said that such a technology could enable people to "access their own health model," and that it would provide a "large, straightforward system for informing treatment regimes."

"These models will then be used to identify personalized prevention and therapy schedules, and the side effects of drugs," he said. "The models will be there to help diagnose a particular problem and provide solutions…. This is the first time that huge IT systems looking at individual care will be combined with genomics and medical needs."

ITFOM's 25 partners include institutions and companies in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

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