The “Digital Patients” platform opens the door to personalized therapy

NOVI SAD – Connecting science and clinical practice pushes the boundaries in the world of global medicine, and great results have been achieved in that field in recent years by domestic scientists and doctors. The Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases of Vojvodina is one of the seven European hospitals where, by using the “digital patient” platform, the course of the disease is successfully predicted and clinical trials of drugs are accelerated, which opened the door to the so-called personalized therapy.

“Digital patients” are mathematical models, and thanks to modern technologies, it is possible to simulate how the human organism operates, and therefore the course of the disease. Thanks to this platform, it is possible to skip several steps in clinical trials of new drugs and medical devices.

“In order to test a drug today, you have to test it on animals first, then in the laboratory, and then on humans, and it takes at least one thousand to two thousand patients to even see any effects. Here, that process is significantly accelerated. For example, the stents that are now implanted in people, in order to open certain arteries, are implanted virtually on a computer, first and only then on a real patient, and if the effects are similar, there is no need to test it on thousands of patients, it is enough that we did it on a computer”, said prof. Dr. Nenad Filipović, rector of the University of Kragujevac.

In silico studies, i.e., studies done on a computer, have so far been carried out in Serbia within the framework of two international projects. At the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases of Vojvodina, several clinical tests were performed, and the results, as stated in that institution, are excellent.

It is expected that in the coming period this will be the predominant method of drug testing. Also, the personalization of therapy, since if we have a digital patient who is a replica of a real patient, we can examine certain combinations of drugs in the digital form, to see their mutual interactions and how successfully it really works on a specific patient, once we make sure that it is all alright, we can give that therapy to a specific patient as needed, said prof. Dr. Lazar Velicki from the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases of Vojvodina.

The Institute in Sremska Kamenica is also working on the development of other important projects.

“One of the goals is to use the patients voice to try to diagnose various diseases. What has been noticed in the last few years is that there are fine modulations of the voice that are typical for the patients who have Parkinsons disease, heart failure or other diseases, whose existence can be indicated by a special analysis”, Velicki adds.

All these systems, which are being researched at the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases of Vojvodina, are in the commercialization phase, and after obtaining the licenses, the demonstration of their effectiveness will begin.

According to our interlocutors, a large number of pharmaceutical companies have shown interest in the “digital patient” model because the time and costs of developing a drug or medical device are drastically reduced.