Marriage of IT and medicine to deliver accurate diagnostics and tailor-made therapies

Kraków is now home to Sano Centre for Personalised Computational Medicine. Its research personnel will be using modern computer technology and powerful computational capabilities of supercomputers to support doctors in diagnosis and treatment processes, and to empower pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies as they develop new drugs and medical procedures. Sano is a project co-financed by the Foundation for Polish Science under the International Research Agendas PLUS (MAB PLUS) Programme.

Traditionally, in medicine, the same single drug or treatment method has been used for all patients suffering from some specific illness. Now this approach is being superseded by personalised medicine which embraces differences between individual patients fighting the same disease. Those differences are produced especially by genetic diversity, but also by variation in lifestyle, diet, age, gender, and even place of residence. By recognising these differences we can now align treatment options with the needs and organisms of specific patients. In addition to this individual distinctness, there are also more and more scientific advancements concerning the complex nature of disease itself and the multitude of physiological mechanisms involved in its development. So, the amount of data that would need to be analysed by a doctor in their office or hospital ward before they can make an informed decision and start treatment is becoming overwhelming. This is where computational medicine, also known as in silico or computer medicine, steps in. “This is a new field of knowledge, which has emerged as a result of advancements in computer technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced algorithms, computer modelling and simulations, high-performance multiscale computing, analysing vast databases, and augmented reality methods ? all these technologies can be harnessed to prevent and accurately diagnose diseases, and also to plan and support effective treatment with minimum side effects,” said Marian Bubak, PhD Eng., CSO, Sano Centre.

International operational partnership

Sano is a project implemented by the Cyfronet Academic Computer Centre at the AGH University of Science and Technology, and its four partners ? Klaster LifeScience Kraków, UK’s The University of Sheffield, and Germany’s Fraunhofer Society for Advancement of Applied Research (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.?V.) and Jülich Research Centre (Forschungszentrum Jülich). The foreign partners are experts in transferring results, models, and simulations into industry and clinical practice. The collaboration with the University Hospital in Kraków, Poland, will also play an important role for the successful implementation of research results and their application in therapy.

The Centre for Personalised Computational Medicine will have its operations funded from powerful grants, one from the Foundation for Polish Science under the International Research Agendas PLUS (MAB PLUS) Programme, and one from EU’s Horizon 2020: Teaming for Excellence.

Better quality of life, lower cost

Computational medicine is going to grow faster and faster, as it responds to the growing demand for personalised and effective healthcare. Societies are aging, people are living longer and, consequently, are suffering longer from various chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative or mental diseases. “The goal of, and a challenge for, contemporary medicine is to provide all patients with the best possible quality of life, and this can be done with personalised healthcare. This approach not only helps deliver better treatment outcomes, but also reduces adverse effects. What is equally important is the fact that with personalised diagnostics and treatment we can cut down the costs of treatment, and this in turn allows us to provide treatment to more people with the same amount of money. Therefore, personalised healthcare offers significant benefits, in both developed and developing countries,” said Professor Marco Viceconti, University of Bologna, Chairman of the Sano International Scientific Committee.

The research at Sano is expected to produce such outcomes as algorithms that support doctors as they make the diagnosis and select the treatment that would be optimum for specific patients, and also professional software to help researchers find new drugs.

Who are the founders of the Sano Centre for Personalised Computational Medicine?

Marian Bubak, PhD Eng., CSO, Sano Centre, obtained his MSc in Technical Physics, and his PhD in Computer Science at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków. Currently, he is the Head of the Laboratory of Computer Science Methods in Medicine, at the AGH’s Cyfronet Academic Computer Science; member of the AGH’s Computer Science Department, and Professor Emeritus of distributed systems engineering at the Institute of Computer Science, University of Amsterdam. His research interests include parallel computing and distributed systems and applications, and also quantum computing. He has contributed to some 15 research projects financed by the EU. He is the author of about 230 articles, and a co-author of 17 conference reports, and a member of editorial boards of such journals as  “Journal of Future Generation Computer Systems?, “Bio-Algorithms and Med-Systems? and “Journal of Computational Science.?

Professor Marco Viceconti comes from Italy, and obtained his PhD at the University of Florence. Currently, he is full professor of Computational Biomechamics at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy, and visiting professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Sheffield, UK, where he founded the prestigious Insigneo Institute for In Silico Medicine. Prof. Viceconti is an expert of neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics in general, and in particular in the use of subject-specific modelling to support the medical decision. He is one of the key figures in the in silico medicine international community: he founded the VPH Institute, an international non-profit organisation that coordinates this research community, and drove the creation of the Avicenna Alliance, which represent the biomedical industry interests in this domain. According to SCOPUS he published 339 papers (H-index = 47).

Sano Centre for Personalised Computational Medicine is co-financed from the MAB PLUS Programme implemented by the Foundation for Polish Science using EU funds available from the European Regional Development Fund under the Smart Growth Operational Programme, Measure 4.3.  The MAB PLUS Programme supports projects of beneficiaries of European Commission’s Teaming.