MODELING DISEASES AND TREATMENTS [Mechanical Engineering]
(Mechanical Engineering Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Computational medicine, a method of using computer models to understand how disease developsand how to thwart it- is moving into the hands of doctors who treat patients for heart ailments, cancer, and other illnesses. Using digital tools, researchers have begun to use experimental and clinical data to build models that can unravel medical problems, according to four Johns Hopkins professors affiliated with the Institute for Computational Medicine at the university's Whiting School of Engineering in Baltimore.
The professors' review of the field appeared in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The institute was launched in 2005 as collaboration between Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Its leaders sought to use computers to analyze and mathematically model disease mechanisms. The results were to be used to help predict who is at risk of developing a disease and to determine how to treat it more effectively, said Raimond Winslow, institute director.
In recent years, the field has exploded, he said.
"There's a whole new community of people being trained in mathematics and computer science," he said. "This allows them to bring a whole new perspective to medical diagnosis and treatment. Engineers traditionally construct models of the systems they are designing. In our case, we're building computational models of what we are trying to study, which is disease."
Looking at disease through the lens of traditional biology is like trying to assemble a very complex jigsaw puzzle with a huge number of pieces, Winslow said. The result can be a very incomplete picture.
"Computational medicine can help you see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together to give a more holistic picture," he said. "We may never have all of the missing pieces, but we'll wind up with a much clearer view of what causes disease and how to treat it."
(c) 2013 American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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