In silico medicine is the future. Flanders Institute for Biomechanical Experimentation (FIBEr) provides the data for enabling reliable in silico modeling of mechanical interaction between a medical device or treatment and the human body.
Mechanics is all around us, and most certainly within us! The tissues in our body are continuously engaged in mechanical interaction, with themselves and also with external devices. These devices may serve to protect (e.g. a helmet), repair (e.g. surgical instruments or physiotherapy exercise) or replace (e.g. prostheses) our tissues.
A key element to improve the design process of these devices or treatments is the use of in silico simulations: a virtual representation of the clinical situation. This requires a full mechanical and geometrical characterization of the biological tissue. With this virtual representation, a multitude of variations can be applied, in terms of patient variability or device design changes. Reliable in silico simulation will not only reduce the need for elaborate and ethically challenging animal studies or clinical trials, it will catalyze the use of personalized medicine.
However, whereas state-of-the-art clinical imaging modalities are widely available to obtain geometrical information of a clinical situation, standardized and/or internationally recognized test protocols do not yet exist for obtaining the mechanical properties of biological materials. We identify this as one of the most important obstacles to be overcome for in silico medicine to truly make its breakthrough in the medical device industry and become an accepted method for medical regulators.
FIBEr is a KU Leuven core facility that provides facilities and knowhow to customers in academia and industry for the mechanical characterization of a wide range of biological tissues. according to the highest academic standards. Its researchers strive to create validated and standardized procedures, from sample collection, over testing, up to data storage and analysis.
FIBER's vision is (1) to become the reference center in Europe for mechanical characterization of biological tissues, and (2) to achieve worldwide recognition for the development of validated testing protocols, and (3) to be the driving force behind the creation of an international, universally interpretable database of mechanical tissue properties for in silico simulation.