AI and Digital Twins for Preventive and Personalized Medicine

I would like to start the article by emphasizing that values ​​and ethics should be priority and hence, above everything else. Because not everything works. Therefore, for orderly and humane progress, it is important to establish limits that avoid potential abuses and irreparable collateralities for humanity. Some people do not confuse the meaning of freedom with anarchy or disorder. Which does not mean a patent on marques for instituting an inefficient, bureaucratic and senseless overregulation that others love so much.

Recently I have participated in various conferences, forums and think tanks on how innovation and technology can add value to people, especially in an area of ​​such size and importance to humanity as health.

innovations in well-being

It is undeniable that progress in the fusion of medicine and technology is growing rapidly, especially in the face of the emerging and dynamic nature of some innovations that are fundamentally changing the way we care for people’s well-being.

At the main international seminars, experts are among the protagonists of this revolution generated by disruptive technologies such as nanotechnology, digital twins or artificial intelligence. This is the case of Montse Guardia, Chief People Officer of the semiconductor company IDEADED, whom I have recently met at several conferences. Technologists, and I completely agree with them, this also extends to the leading role enjoyed by data and quantum computing. And supercomputing, more than a futuristic vision, is a technology that is already here. I’ll leave nanotechnology for a future article and talk about the rest here.

And what are digital twins?

In the potential sense, I would define digital twins as real-time virtual representations of physical objects, systems or processes, using data collected from sensors and other sources of information about the physical object or real system. It is an exact copy, but in a digital environment. These digital representations are used to simulate, analyze, and optimize the behavior and performance of physical objects or systems in the real world. It allows you to simulate and understand the operation of an object or system in different situations.

The application and use of digital twins is found in very diverse areas, including manufacturing, supply chain management, health, energy or infrastructure management, among many others, allowing organizations to improve decisions, predict outcomes and optimize performance. And allow to customize safely. They will allow us to prepare proofs of concept, pilots, test and develop strategies in any area and make future projections while reducing risks and costs.

Prevention and medical hyper-individualization

Entering the medical field, these virtual models allow us to simulate and predict complex medical scenarios, thus supporting the professional in clinical decision making. They could be our “virtual twin brother,” a “digital patient” who gets sick, recovers, responds (or not) to treatment and recovers (or not) as if they were us. . And in real time. However, in a simulation scenario: trial and error.

A key aspect is hyper-personalization, thanks to the ability of digital twins to integrate medical data with AI, allowing treatment to be personalized very precisely. We find applications such as cancer treatment, where virtual models can optimize the dose and focus of radiotherapy to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects.

In addition to individualization of treatment for sick people, another important aspect is problem anticipation. Digital twins play an important role in disease prevention by identifying individuals at high risk of developing certain pathologies or adverse health conditions. This is achieved by analyzing data ranging from genetic information to medical history and environmental factors.

actual cases

One of the various examples of real cases currently present in Spain is the Leukodomics research project, designed to develop “virtual twins” of children and adolescents suffering from leukemia in order to simulate their response to each individual treatment And they can be predicted. Development: chances of success, potential toxicity or long-term survival of the survivor.

Another example was presented during the Mobile World Congress 2024, a digital twin prototype that seeks to promote the dissemination of virtual models of the human body for health research and the personalization of medicine, through the power of BSC supercomputing. Is. In particular, a digital model of an organ, in this case a person’s heart, which would allow earlier detection of heart disease, in addition to many other capabilities.

new challenges; ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or cancer

If we combine the potential of digital twins with quantum computing, and their ability to process huge amounts of data and perform complex calculations faster than conventional computers, then it is certain that, sooner or later, they will be surpassed. Will be done. In medical research, such as neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or some types of cancer, there is no solution today, but there will be a solution tomorrow.

I have no doubt that advances in quantum computing, together with the ability of digital twins to generate complex biological scenarios, will lead to a before and after in precision medicine, meeting major challenges with more effective treatments and fewer side effects. Will allow to do.

Priority for Europe

It is quite indicative that the European Commission includes this innovation among its priorities. On December 21, 2023, with the inauguration of the MareNostrum5 supercomputer and the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, the European Commission launched the European Virtual Human Twins (VHT) initiative.

Along these lines, the EU has stated that “virtual human twins” (VHTs) have great potential in the advancement of personalized care, taking it as a fundamental priority, understanding that it will provide concrete benefits for citizens and patients. Will accelerate benefits. patients, while maintaining and promoting EU science and technology.

Ethics, Values ​​and People

On the other hand, we must not forget that the key to success lies in the synergy achieved by the collaboration between human talent and technology. In this sense, it is essential that medical training programs consider continued recycling in these emerging technologies. Let health and wellness professionals know they exist. that they are equipped to integrate these tools into their clinical practice. And it is guaranteed that they acquire the necessary knowledge to use them effectively.

I would like to conclude the article by again emphasizing the importance of human values ​​and the limits of morality. And that these technologies are not an end in themselves, but a means, they are a tool focused on supporting and enhancing the talents and skills of people, which are impossible to replace. Because innovation is a people thing.

Manuel Bonilla is a manager, professor and speaker in the field of innovation and strategy

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