Innovation that solves personal, social and economic challenges lies at the heart of NTT’s sustainability strategy. Its pioneering precision medicine and biological digital twin technology promise to save and enrich lives.
Covid-19 has refocused government efforts on public health, an area where the private sector can play a critical role. Companies that invest in health innovation are not only fulfilling a real need; a growing body of evidence shows that corporations that position people and the planet before profit are more likely to thrive in the future.
One such organization is the global technology and business solutions provider NTT. The company is leveraging its technology to boost individual health and wellbeing because it believes this is essential to a more sustainable future.
The company’s sustainability strategy is driven by innovation with a strong focus on improving personal, social and economic outcomes. NTT is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the group’s companies have identified business operations that help achieve the 17 goals.
Technology and innovation can improve the quality of life, health and wellbeing, says Dr. Joe Alexander, Director of the Medical and Health Informatics (MEI) Lab at NTT Research.
“Bio digital twin technology has the potential to brighten the future of medicine by relieving the burden for doctors and patients, particularly in preventing health problems and disease.”
MEI Lab is dedicated to advancing the medical and health sciences by empowering the application of what Dr. Alexander calls “P4”medicine —a more personalized, preventive, predictive, and participatory practice of medicine and wellness.
He oversees research in pioneering—and collaborative—multi-scale precision cardiology platforms. These include cardiovascular biological digital twin, heart-on-a-chip technology and developing the infrastructure for a digital replica of an individual’s heart and circulatory system.
The bio digital twin comes to life through analysis of biological, physiological, genomic, phenotypic, and health records data. The development of this technology promises to deliver digital transformation to the healthcare industry.
In essence, these advanced analytics, which draw upon a wide range of sciences and technologies, will improve and predict a patient’s health performance across their lifetime.
NTT aims to “individualize and revolutionize healthcare” by applying bio digital twin technologies to achieve precision medicine. “Creating a biological digital twin is the pivotal point of the whole health program, and there are lots of opportunities to share this innovation with the world.”
Bio digital twin technology will brighten the future of medicine by relieving the burden for doctors and patients, particularly in preventing health problems and disease.
The innovative scientific advances by his team will make life easier for everyone. In theory, bio digital twin technology helps identify potential health issues well before they become critical, meaning they can be better managed or avoided altogether, with intervention at the right time.
“One way that our bio digital twins will be unique and different [from those of competitors] is that they will age along with the patient,” he says. NTT differentiates in the health and wellbeing market by obtaining as much data as possible and using artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify critical information.
Good data could be the basis for more efficient medical care. NTT’s Basic Research Lab experts in Japan say better results are possible through more research, development, and data analysis.
While having large amounts of data is a good thing, information is hard to extract. It also has to be informative—obtaining complete, accurate and accessible data is the challenge. Data can be integrated to create the type of individualized medicine necessary to address patient characteristics that are clinically relevant and best respond to patient-specific therapies.
The MEI Lab team is currently gathering data on how patients respond to certain medicines. It is building a platform that can handle acute illness and chronic illness, and one that also deals with prevention and health maintenance.
NTT is also blazing a trail with technology innovations for mental health and other medical research. For example, the company has developed technology to measure and analyze biological sounds and electrocardiographic signals. The goal is for this breakthrough to enable early detection of heart disease and personal heart modeling. Additionally, monitoring these sounds and signals will inform support technology to change behavior through encouragement and personalized advice.
NTT believes that by embracing an open and collaborative approach to knowledge sharing, the pace of innovation will accelerate. For instance, in Japan, life logs record details of annual health exams from baby to adulthood, and this data is stored within universities. By learning from it, common yet life-threatening diseases such as hypertension can be predicted—and the role of prediction is critical. AI, machine learning and bio-technics aid the health promotion process, and NTT Group companies are studying these areas independently.
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