Digital twins, industry-first custom simulation models, are beginning to be implemented with some major breakthroughs, for example, in cardiovascular diagnostics and insulin pump control. One of the immune systems may offer precision medicine for a wide range of conditions such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and viral infections such as COVID-19.
Today, almost all fields dealing with complex technologies use sophisticated computer simulations”digital twin“To predict the performance of each piece of equipment under real-world conditions. For example, a digital twin of an aircraft engine receives continuously updated operating data via the “Internet of Things” during the engine’s flight. Any deviation provides an early warning of a problem, which can be resolved before it becomes serious or catastrophic.
The medical analogue is in its infancy. Doppelgangers can have many uses and take many forms: predict disease trajectory individually to allow diagnosis before the onset of severe symptoms, help identify biomarkers or elucidate mechanisms of drug action. , and create computational model mechanics of biological function.
Current examples, such as the human heart, improve diagnosis, prognosis, and treatments. Another example is the artificial pancreas that helps administer insulin to patients with type I diabetes.
Particularly important are those that capture key features of the immune system with a broad impact on human disease. Being able to predict a person’s response to infection or injury can save their life in many ways. The project “Building the Digital Twins of the Human Immune System: Towards a Roadmap” reflects the proposal of a working group of approximately 200 scientists from six universities around the world for multi-scale modeling of viral pandemics.
To do this, they a. propose the construction of Consortium for Predictive Immunology which serves to integrate transdisciplinary researchers. This collaborative human infrastructure, which tightly integrates modeling and clinical deployment, will help transform the nature of biomedical research by enabling goals that are currently unattainable. This will provide many opportunities for new training paradigms for both biomedical and computational researchers.
They estimate two phases in 7 years. An initial planning effort will last 2 years in which the application will be determined, an IDT concept map will be established, the necessary infrastructure will be created, and the composition of the collaborative group will be determined. The first step is to bring together key stakeholders to define goals and approaches: modellers, immunologists, clinicians, software engineers, commercial entities and funders.
Goal: a small number of applications; Have a Steering Group that can initiate and coordinate the next steps; and an outline of available funding sources, starting with funding for the planning phase. Over the next three years, the consortium will build and validate a prototype version and support the IT infrastructure. They will be validated in trials with patients over the past two years.
Digital twin technology is within our reach. Given that the immune system plays a role in nearly every major disease facing humanity, including infectious, cardiovascular, respiratory and autoimmune, the impact would potentially be enormous. The time to start is now.