Building a computer model of the virtual human being
The Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment (VHP4Safety) project is building a platform for a new safety assessment without the use of animals. The platform is a computer model that will be populated with data about the construction and function of the human body and body processes during human diseases and the development thereof. This project is multidisciplinary and includes a variety of experts from the fields of data science, toxicology, technology, biotechnology and transition science.
When building the platform, the project team will therefore start from the human body instead of animal procedures. They will do this using animal-free innovations, such as organ-on-a-chip technology for different organs and organ combinations as well as computer models. How can we use such innovations to assess the safety of chemicals and medicines? What are the latest developments in data science, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence?
The ambition is to gain as much knowledge as possible about the effects of exposure to substances on healthy human beings. The participants have abandoned the current paradigm of laboratory animals as the gold standard. Using scenarios for age, gender and disease in different lines of research, they will find data that they can use to populate the computer model. This will give rise to a virtual model of the human body that can be used for tests as though it were a real person.
This project, receiving funding of over €10 million from the National Science Agenda, started on 1 June 2021. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is contributing as one of several co-funders. The consortium building the platform is large and consists of 35 institutions, companies and other organisations. The RIVM is the co-initiator of this project, together with HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Utrecht University's Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences.