The topic of this H2020 call is focused on accelerating the uptake of computer simulations for testing medicines and medical devices, to which the EC dedicated a budget of € 6-8 M for proposal. A total of four projects got funded and the VPHi is a partner in 3 of these projects, working on dissemination and stakeholder outreach.
These are the four projects that were funded under the call SC1- DTH - 06 -2020:
1. In Silico World, coordinated by the University of Bologna (Italy) has 14 partners and a total budget of € 7 646 012,25.
The goal of the project is to accelerate the uptake of modelling and simulation technologies for the development and regulatory assessment of all kind of medical products. This will be achieved by supporting the trajectory of a number of In Silico Trials solutions through development, validation, regulatory approval, optimisation, and commercial exploitation. These solutions, already developed to different stages, target different medical specialities (endocrinology, orthopaedics, infectiology, neurology, oncology, cardiology), different diseases (osteoporosis, dynapenia-sarcopenia, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, mammary carcinoma, arterial stenosis, etc.), and different types of medical products (medicinal products, medical devices, and Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products).
In parallel the consortium will work with a large multi-stakeholder advisory board to form a community of Practice around In Silico Trials, where academics, industry experts, regulators, clinicians, and patients can develop consensus around Good modelling Practices. As the solutions under development move toward their commercial exploitation, the ISW consortium will make available to the Community of Practice a number of resources (technologies, validation data, first in kind regulatory decisions, technical standardisation plans, good modelling practices, scalability and efficiency-improving solutions, exploitation business models, etc.) that will permanently lower barriers to adoption for any future development.
The VPHi participates to the project as responsible of the activities of dissemination, communication, and Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) that aims to identify and address social and ethical barriers throughout the innovation process, so as to enhance the societal embeddedness and responsiveness of innovations.
2. SimCardioTest, coordinated by Inria (France) has 10 partners and a total budget of € 7 965 875
Despite massive investment in healthcare, huge R&D cost increase and regulatory pathway complexity hamper tremendously commercialisation of new devices & medicines, putting patient populations at risk of not receiving adequate therapy. At the same time, outside healthcare, computer modelling and simulation (CM&S) is precisely recognised to increase speed & agility while reducing costs of development. CM&S can create scientific evidence based on controlled investigations including variability, uncertainty quantification, and satisfying demands for safety, efficacy & improved access.
Cardiac modelling has dramatically gained maturity over the last decades, with personalisation to clinical data enabling validation. The project consortium selected a number of cardiac devices and medicines where CM&S is mature enough and that represent the most common cardiac pathologies, to demonstrate a standardised and rigorous approach for in-silico clinical trials.
SimCardioTest will bring a disruptive innovation by creating an integrated and secure platform standardising & bridging model simulations, in-silico trials, and certification support. This environment will go beyond the state-of-the-art in computational multi-physics & multi-scale personalised cardiac models. Diseased conditions and gender/age differences will be considered to overcome clinical trials limitations such as under-representation of groups (e.g. women, children, low socio-economic status). Advanced big data, visual analytics & artificial intelligence tools will extract the most relevant information.
It is critical that Europe demonstrates its capacity to leverage in-silico technology in order to be competitive in healthcare innovation. SimCardioTest exploitation aims at delivering a major economic impact on the European pharmaceutical and cardiac devices industry. It will accelerate development, certification and commercialisation, and will produce a strong societal impact contributing to personalised healthcare.
The VPHi will contribute to the dissemination activities but will also take care of the stakeholder engagement and awareness building, with a specific focus on the regulatory side.
3. SIMCORE, coordinated by Charite (Germany) has 12 partner and a total budget of € 7 260 356,25.
The complexity and speed of technological innovation, with increasingly short product cycles, creates huge demand for standardized best practices to apply in-silico validation methods in a statistically robust, repeatable, and efficient way. SIMCor will address this challenge by providing manufacturers of cardiovascular implantable devices with an open, reusable, cloud-based platform for in-silico testing to accelerate development and regulatory approval of their products. The platform will support device validation along the whole R&D pipeline: from initial modelling and in vitro experiments, to animal studies and device implantation and effect simulation on human cohorts. In particular, SIMCor innovative virtual cohort technology will allow to generate and expose new or existing devices to a range of clinically realistic and diversified anatomies and (patho)physiological conditions, also including extensive paediatric populations, meeting the critical need of testing devices in young patients. A standardized multi-level validation process and sensitivity analysis will guarantee statistical credibility for in-silico tests and the platform as a whole, proving solid experimental ground for regulatory authorities, thus accelerating approval and time to market for new products, reducing the burden of human and animal studies and boosting innovation at large. High-priority safety, efficacy and usability endpoints will be investigated, focusing on device implantation and effect simulations in two representative areas: transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) and pulmonary artery pressure sensors (PAPS). Based on proof-of-validation results and regulatory approval for these use cases, SIMCor will define standard operational procedures (SOPs) and a generalised technical framework for the in-silico testing, validation and regulatory approval of cardiovascular devices, to be put at the service of researchers, medical device manufacturers and regulatory bodies.
The VPHi will lead the activities for the identification of the Standard Operational Procedures SOPs, best practices and documentation guidelines for the development and validation of in silico computational models, in close interaction with the regulatory authorities and representatives of stakeholders from academia and industry.
4. SimInSitu, coordinated by 4REALSIM SERVICES BV (Netherlands) has 9 partners and will receive a total budget of € 5 410 692,50
SimInSitu is aiming to develop a sophisticated in-silico method to predict the short- and long-term behavior of in-situ tissue engineered heart valves by combing advanced tissue remodeling algorithms with a personalized virtual heart modelling approach. The method will be specifically developed to predict the complex transformation process of biodegradable heart valves from the initially synthetic scaffold into a fully remodeled & functional valve. This transformation process, named ETR for Endogenous Tissue Restoration, is the core technology for a new generation of very promising biodegradable vascular device currently developed by Xeltis. ETR makes the use of animal derived tissue, which is used in the majority of commercially available bioprosthetic heart valves, obsolete and avoids thereby durability related issues and potentially minimized the need for reoperations. Though, significant progress was made during the past years in developing ERT based devices, it remains very challenging, costly, time-consuming, and rich with obstacles. New knowledge can only be generated through a tedious trial & error process (requiring preclinical and clinical studies), since the restorative process cannot be replicated in an in-vitro environment. Advanced Computer Modelling & Simulation technologies have the potential to overcome this limitation by allowing to test new designs, modified scaffold compositions, or other applications in a virtual patient-specific environment – in-silico. SimInSitu will not only develop such a computer model, but will also verify and validate it thoroughly by making use of the extensive in-vitro and in-vivo data available and where necessary will generate new data to support the credibility of this in-silico method. The availability of this computer model could contribute significantly to an acceleration of especially the ETR-device development and accelerate their translation into the clinic and market.
We wish all four projects a great beginning of their activities and a run smooth throughout the project years!