At Dassault Systèmes, we are fueled by the profound belief that virtual worlds extend and improve the real world, because they are spaces where we can represent and experiment. Since 1981, we have been instrumental in helping companies sustainably innovate products. In parallel, our ambition to harmonize product, nature and life has led us to develop a new understanding of life and nature. Back in February, we announced an evolution in our company’s purpose to put our focus on moving ‘from things to life.’ This is possible today because we’re capable of applying the knowledge and know-how we acquired in the non-organic world to the organic – living – world.
Imagine being able to understand, model, search, test, and treat a human body as precisely, safely and effectively as we already can today for a plane, a car or a building. We can transform how people are cured and help them live a better life. This is what we call the virtual twin, and what Scientific American just this week named one of the top 10 emerging technology twins of 2020.
In its article “Virtual Patients Could Revolutionize Medicine: Replacing humans with digital simulations could make clinical trials faster and safer“, Scientific American explores the potential benefits of in silico medicine – the testing of drugs and treatments on virtual organs or body systems to predict how a real person will respond to the therapies. This can result in faster and less expensive treatment options and greatly reduce the number of live human subjects.
The article gives some examples of how the scientific community and industry partners are addressing these issues through initiatives, and cites our Living Heart Project
The Living Heart Project – LHP – is a trailblazer in in silico medicine. Launched in 2014, the LHP hypothesized that cardiovascular experts around the world from academia, industry and clinical practice already had sufficient knowledge to create a fully functioning 3D model of the human heart. The experiment to properly combine their information was successful, and the group published the details of a complete virtual twin of a human heart, built from basic understanding of heart tissue, structure and electrophysiology, and completely adaptable to mimic an individual person or a population. This virtual medical reference is now in use around the world, helping to unravel heart disease. With each use the model, strengths and weakness are identified and published, fueling new experts to join the project and push the learning and technology further.
We are leveraging the learning done in the LHP to work towards achieving our vision to develop a virtual human. By combining art, science and technology, it becomes possible to understand the invisible to represent the visible. Industry, researchers, physicians and even patients can visualize, test, understand and predict what cannot be seen – from the way drugs affect a disease to surgical outcomes – before a patient is treated.
We’re excited that Scientific American recognized the advancements in this area as one of the most promising emerging technologies. They noted how it can not only speed results and mitigating the risks of clinical trials, but can also be used in place of risky interventions needed to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions. We certainly concur, and are proud to continue our work to make this technology commonplace.