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February 1, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: Physiome Project


I read about the rapidly developing field of computational physiology in Michael Behar's article in the current issue of Wired magazine.

The Physiome Project is a worldwide public domain effort to provide a computational framework for understanding human physiology.


Digital models of every human system and anatomical feature are being created - from large organs down to tiny cellular and molecular functions.

The skeletal system is done; recently, the first-ever digital human heart and lungs were assembled.

The virtual lungs, with 300 million alveoli, inhale and exhale just like yours.


Next is the digestive system, with others - nervous, endocrine, immune, sensory, skin, reproductive - on the way.

A dozen research teams from around the world are collaborating.

Pharmaceutical companies are awaiting the project's results.


Among many other uses, the technology will let drug manufacturers test the effectiveness of medicines before spending billions of dollars on iffy clinical trials.

Medical engineers could fashion customized implants for individual patients.


Surgeons could practice an operation not on a generic model but on "you" - and when they said "Oops," it wouldn't be your blood spurting out.

It won't be happening tomorrow, true - but it will be happening.


The project's website is loaded with stuff, including some very interesting movies.

February 1, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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