Many scientists already have exact copies of their patients’ organs in their computers, where they can predict strange behavior, prevent disease, and provide the best existing treatments.


Let’s imagine for a moment that our GP has a digital copy of each of us stored on his computer. This digital twin acts like a volunteer who is always there for us: in the event of an accident or illness, experts are the first to test treatments on it. This clone can breathe and walk, but may also break a leg or develop heart disease.

Although it sounds like science fiction, researchers around the world are already working on this technology and there are many examples that have been achieved in recent years, thanks to artificial intelligence and supercomputers that can process millions of data sets in seconds. Let’s process.

For example, the one at the University Hospital of Heidelberg in Germany, where a patient has an exact replica of a real heart, looks and beats like the original, but also, cell by cell, and muscle by muscle, the heart. Same as original. Truth. Basically it is the twin of his heart, but the peculiarity is that he lives and “breathes” through the screen itself.

Or the project that Dr. Steve Levine took on when his daughter was born with a congenital heart disease and decided to rebuild her heart in virtual reality. A technique that is now trying to help children with a rare and difficult-to-treat heart condition. Levine created the Dassault company’s Living Heart project, which has succeeded in creating an accurate virtual model of the human heart that can be tested and analyzed, allowing surgeons to simulate what-if scenarios for the organ using various procedures and tools. can represent. doctors.

These digital twins are highly detailed computational prototypes that emulate the characteristics and behavior of their physical counterpart and can be implemented in a wide variety of fields and situations. Digital twins (or digital twins) are one of the most striking technological trends of recent years as they promise a wide variety of applications.

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), these copies are connected to the physical world and provide information about it in real time. In fact, there are already large corporations, such as the Digital Twin Consortium in the United States, applying this technology to various sectors such as aerospace and defense, natural resources, construction and smart cities, manufacturing or manufacturing process, and health care.

The most recent example is one that takes place in Barcelona between the walls of a 19th-century chapel, where a virtual heart with 100 million patches of simulated cells, a fully functional digital twin of the human anatomy, is used for everything from pumping drugs to transplants. Until, leisurely trying different remedies. A digital twin is not an avatar in the metaverse, nor is it a genetic clone. A digital twin is a computer representation of reality and its context. This way you can simulate how you would react and make decisions.

This digital twin pulses, for example, inside the Marenostrum, a supercomputer used by scientists to simulate real-world features in minute detail, including how the heart moves charged atoms moving in and out of its cells. goes. Its digital display is beginning to help doctors predict how a patient’s real heart will respond to a particular treatment. Experts involved in these projects think that current medicine is backward and this worldwide effort to create virtual cells, tissues and organs is something revolutionary in modern medicine.

Doctors today are trying to find the best treatment for their patients by evaluating past clinical trials in subjects that are somewhat like their current patients, but not in the same circumstances. However, already doctors can use digital twins, which look at the exchange of data and knowledge between a real and a virtual human, to better predict what awaits patients, who are mostly one size fits all. Suitable for everyone. Each approach evolves toward a truly predictive and personalized approach.

Going back to the German example in Heidelberg, scientists collected millions of data from the heart from a series of MRI examinations, CT scans, along with other procedures the patient underwent in various hospital investigations. Then, with each new piece of information, a program equipped with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) formed neural networks that made it possible to model an anatomical model of the organ at a multilevel.

Its function is basically to keep an updated record of the heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing and any other relevant data on the patient’s heart in order to predict future risks more accurately. This is possible due to the fact that the data collected by AI can be accessed from the cloud instantly. And if the doctor needs it, they can be compared to scientific studies from around the world, because through algorithms the technology recognizes common patterns, applies what it’s learned and offers predictive analysis.

“We could predict weeks or months in advance which patients would get sick or how a particular patient would respond to a certain therapy. This could revolutionize medicine,” said Benjamin Meader, a cardiologist who tested the digital heart software at Heidelberg University Hospital. Science has successfully tested this technique in other cases. In 2017, for example, at the University of Minnesota it was possible to successfully separate two conjoined sisters, thanks to augmented reality navigation that prevented interference on them. Previously used to identify physical defects.

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