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Digital Avatar Helps Plan Personalized Therapies

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Jul 2019
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Image: Research suggests virtual manikin avatars could help plan medical treatments (Photo courtesy of Empa).
Image: Research suggests virtual manikin avatars could help plan medical treatments (Photo courtesy of Empa).
A virtual doppelganger that is programmed with a patient’s physiological data could aid in providing a personalized prognosis of treatment.

Under development at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa; Dübendorf, Switzerland), the digital twin represents a complex multi-physical skin model fed with data from non-invasive sensor systems attached to the human skin. The ostensible transdermal manikin and a linked-up computer model are then used to simulate human physiological responses to drugs and medicines, such as changes in skin temperature or perspiration rate, which can then be analyzed in order to enable precise and personalized dosage of the active agents.

The computer modeling of the digital doppelganger also factors in a patient’s skin characteristics. For example, the active agent will be absorbed differently depending on where the plaster is attached to the body, or whether the drug is administered to a sun-tanned athlete, an elderly lady with pale, papery skin, or a soft-skinned newborn. Drug dosage can thus be controlled precisely thanks to a tailored, time-dependent rate of expulsion. In the future, the manikins system will be used to set up the considerably more complex digital human doppelgangers, which are governed by a larger number of variables. The avatar was described on July 3, 2019, in CQFD.

“In medicine, people dream of complete in silico doppelgangers, which predict how a person will age or how an artificial joint will wear in the body. Using an in silico doppelganger, we’re able to respond to individual patients much more precisely,” said Professor Thijs Defraeye, PhD, of the Empa Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles lab. “As an extra benefit, we expect to be able to reduce the dosage (of painkillers, for instance) to such an extent that the patient is supplied with just the right amount.”

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Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology

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