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Virtual Patient to be presented at the Human Toxome Workshop in Brussels, Belgium

The Information Technology Future of Medicine (ITFoM) initiative will be presented at the Human Toxome Workshop in the European Parliament. The aim of the Human Toxome Project is to map pathways of toxicity and to make the toxicity testing cheaper and more effective.

15 May 2012
Austria

The Human Toxome Workshop, organised under the sponsorship of Prof Vittorio Prodi, Member of the European Parliament, will be held in Brussels on 15 May 2012. EU policy makers and representatives of renowned institutions working in the field of research, medicine, pharmacy, health and toxicology will participate at the event.

Toxicity testing typically involves studying adverse health outcomes in animals subjected to high doses of toxicants with subsequent extrapolation to expected human responses at lower doses. This expensive, time-consuming, low-throughput system often provides results of limited predictive value for human health. In the US, a new toxicity testing plan, which includes the use of predictive, high-throughput cell-based assays, has been launched to evaluate perturbations in key pathways of toxicity, and to conduct targeted testing against those pathways. Mapping the entirety of these pathways could be a large-scale effort, perhaps on the order of the Human Genome Project.

The ITFoM initiative will be presented by Prof Jos Kleinjans, chair of the Department of Toxicogenomics at Maastricht University and scientific director of the Netherlands Toxicogenomics Centre. ITFoM is a collaborative stream of more than 25 academic institutions and industrial partners with expertise in ICT, the life sciences, public health and medicine. The vision of the ITFoM initiative is to build a personalised model i.e. a “virtual patient”. This model would support clinicians and general practitioners when making decisions concerning medical therapy and help them, amongst other things, to choose the drug treatment which will have optimal effect on the patient.

The basis for the “virtual patient” model is data pertaining to the genetic make-up of an individual and data on their protein and metabolite levels, which are used as indicators for the health status of a patient. These molecular data will be combined in the model with anatomical and physiological data, and also with information about the life style and environmental factors for each patient. The final decision on specific medical treatments for patients will therefore be based on the data analysed by the model.

The “virtual patient” will help to drastically reduce unwanted or even harmful side-effects of drugs. The potential benefits originating from the ITFoM initiative could be enormous in terms of reduction of healthcare costs as well as for each individual patient: identification of efficient drug combinations on an individual basis; substantial advances in disease prevention and treatment; better data access and use for health professionals, healthcare systems, and researchers.

The Human Toxome Workshop will be held in the European Parliament in Brussels on 15 May 2012 from 12:00 to 14:00 in Room PHS 1A002.ITFoM is one of the six pilot projects preselected to become a European Future Technologies (FET) Flagship Initiatives. FET Flagships are large-scale, science-driven and mission oriented initiatives that aim to achieve visionary technological goals. To prepare the launch of the FET Flagships, the six Pilot Actions are funded with 1.5 million Euros each for a 12-month period starting in May 2011; in the second half of 2012, two of the Pilots will be selected and launched as full FET Flagship Initiatives in 2013. More information about the ITFoM project on www.ITFoM.eu

Prof Jos Kleinjans is a professor of Environmental Health Science at Maastricht University. He is Chair of the Department of Toxicogenomics. He has more than 25 years of experience in toxicology and biomarker research and has contributed more than 200 scientific articles on toxicology and environmental health sciences mainly focused on genetic toxicology and toxicogenomics. Currently, Prof Kleinjans is the scientific director of the Netherlands Toxicogenomics Centre and a member of the Dutch Health Council.