'Digital twins' created to help treat long-haul Covid-19

  • Dell Technologies is helping mobilise large amounts of global de-identified patient data to create virtual models of patients to treat the impacts of long-haul Covid-19.

    The tech giant is working with i2b2 tranSMART Foundation, a non-profit open-source research organisation, to produce what is known as 'digital twins'. 

    Researchers can then perform millions of individualised treatment simulations on the digital twins to determine the best possible therapy option for patients, based on genetic background and medical history.

    Dell Technologies built a data enclave – a secure data storage network – to provide the computational, artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced storage capabilities to generate digital twins.

    In the data enclave, researchers gather, store and analyse data scattered across various monitoring systems and electronic health records. In the future, they will have the capability to update the digital twins with real-time clinical data collected through ventilator and cardiac monitors.

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    “This project is a perfect example of the global research and technology community coming together to support people who are suffering from a condition that is not well understood,” said Jeremy Ford, Vice President of strategic giving and social innovation at Dell Technologies.

    Initially, researchers will use the data enclave to power 70,000 patients’ tests, simulations and analyses, which will be shared with the 4CE Consortium, an international coalition of more than 200 hospitals and research centres.

    This effort has the potential to expand with data for up to two million digital twins in the next four years.

    Understanding and treating long-haul COVID

    An estimated 1 in 20 people with Covid-19 are likely to experience long-term symptoms, ranging from profound fatigue, brain fog, headaches, cardiac arrhythmia, fevers and shortness of breath.

    So-called long haulers suffer from what is known formally as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). Little is known about why some continue to be affected after the virus has left the body or about the long-term impacts.

    To learn more, The National Institutes of Health recently announced the first phase of a four-year, billion-dollar initiative to support PASC research.

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    Research on this condition requires colossal amounts of patient data. Working directly with the 4CE Consortium, the i2b2 tranSMART Foundation has supported the mobilisation of data from a network of more than 200 institutions worldwide. To protect the privacy of patients, all data is de-identified before it is submitted to the 4CE Consortium.

    “At this stage, healthcare professionals are breaking new ground by developing and evaluating the efficacy of COVID-19 treatments,” said Dr Shawn Murphy, i2b2 tranSMART Foundation board member.

    "This new AI-driven platform will help them use the explosion of research findings to deliver better care and precision treatments for their patients. By creating these digital twins, we are taking clinical research to a whole new level.”

    Source: Dell Technologies press release

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