Cambridge Researchers Are Using VR To Better Understand Tumours

by David Heaney • December 28th, 2018

Researchers at the University of Cambridge developed a virtual reality app which vizualizes cancerous tumours. The project was part of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK) Grand Challenge Awards.

The tumour to be analyzed is cut into wafer thin slices which are stained with markers. These slices are digitally scanned and the system constructs a 3D representation of the tumour from these scans. The model can be magnified and rotated in a virtual lab.

vr tumour visualization
Graphic from Cancer Research UK

The software features networking allowing researchers to view the tumour together, even remotely over the internet. Each user is represented with a basic 3D avatar and can communicate with their voice. This kind of direct remote collaboration was much more difficult with existing technologies.

In the past researchers relied on 2D scans or basic 3D models on a monitor. Neither provides the easy level of understanding of depth that VR does. Seeing tumours in this way may allow researchers to more easily identify patterns in how they spread throughout tissue.

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