As the public debate rages over the use of animals in drug development, a change is taking place in labs across the world. The first realistic software models of human and animal organs are starting to emerge - potentially replacing some of the 50 to 100 million animals used each year for scientific research.
The first models of how the heart works were built decades ago (New Scientist, 20 March 1999, p 24), but they are much more sophisticated now. The models couple mechanical contractions to electrical waves in three dimensions, for instance, to show thousands of molecular interactions and connect the heart to a virtual circulatory system. Models of other organs, including the lung, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, skin, kidney, lymphatic system and brain are also under construction.
Unfortunately, the rest of the article requires paid subscription, which I don't have. But it sure is interesting to read that realistic software models are now entering the mainstream.
I've said before that simulations are the future of medicine. They give you much more power than real life creatures do. In simulations, you have control over time (rewind, fast forward, etc.) and you get to define camera's and lightsources wherever you like. For that reason, virtual cells are much easier to study.
These simulations are a powerful tool in medicine and they will help to exponentially speed up the reverse engineering of our biology. This will in turn lead to a biotechnology revolution in the next decade.
Are you looking forward to more health, youth and cures for ailments?
I know I am.