Research into treating cancer is always progressing, but having virtual reality as an option was somewhat unexpected. Virtual reality and 3D visualisation will be explored by researchers from Cambridge University who have just received two of the biggest funding grants ever awarded by Cancer Research UK as part of its Global Challenge initiative.
The project will be headed by Professor Greg Hannon, who will work with a team at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, part of the University of Cambridge. Their goal is to construct 3D versions of breast tumours – and this is where virtual reality comes in. Through these 3D versions, scientists and doctors will be able to closely examine and study every detail of the tumour.
Tumours will be referenced in detail before sliced into really thin pieces. These pieces will be examined down to the very makeup of its DNA before processed and reconstructed in virtual reality to be manipulated and studied. This will be groundbreaking in the research towards curing cancer.
“We want to create an interactive, faithful, 3D map of tumours that can be studied in virtual reality that scientists can ‘walk into’ and look at it in great detail,” said Professor Greg Hannon. “By doing this, we could learn more about tumours and begin to answer questions that have eluded cancer scientists for many years.”
While 3D scanning of tumours isn’t exactly a new thing, this advancement will allow for greater scope, depth of study as well as interactivity. It will open doors to a new method of science and medicine.
“This is an enormous challenge,” stated Professor Greg Hannon. “I liken it to the idea of putting a man on Mars – there’s so much technology that you have to develop to do it. All sorts of things are happening in tumours that we can’t study using the technology we have. But with our project, we hope to change that.”
This project will span over the next five years, and hopefully by then we will have more knowledge on cancer.