Avatars of patients to be used for treatments in UK

London: Doctors in the UK are looking to build 3D computer `avatars` of  patients to `test` treatments before prescribing, a step that can revolutionise medical science.

Doctors are taking the first steps towards a Google Earth style map of the human body, scientists said today.

A digital 3D replica of a patient would be created using their medical data to give an overall picture of their health.  The 3D computer `avatar` which would then allow doctors to test how different treatments would work on that person`s body.

The detailed simulation would warn of unwanted side-effects before they happen. Doctors are already piloting a project of a cerebral aneurysm which could assist clinicians in predicting how likely rupture would be and if treatment is necessary, the Daily Mail reported.

Professor Alejandro Frangi of Sheffield University said, "There is a lot of data about us in the healthcare system, but it is fragmented. I think the ling framework gives us a mechanism, I like to see it as Google Earth, putting all of these different layers of information together."

The technological advance could also help predict the likelihood of bone fractures in patients with osteoporosis by producing a musculo-skeletal from bone density data.

"By developing s of complete organ systems, such as the cardiovascular system, we can help clinicians predict whether treating a constriction in one coronary artery, for example, might improve or worsen blood supply in other coronary arteries in patients with multiple lesions," Professor Frangi said.

"Because it`s currently impossible to make these kinds of predictions, clinicians are often forced to deal with one issue at a time in diseases that are in fact multifactorial or systemic," he added.

Julian Gunn, from the department of cardiovascular science at the University of Sheffield, added that the move would see patients` treatment move "from the 19th century to the 22nd century."

The system could be in place in the next 20 years, according to the Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Modelling (known as INSIGNEO), which has been set up by the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.