British scientists have developed a novel virtual reality (VR) 3D model of cancer that will help increase the understanding of cancer as well as in the search for new treatment.
Researchers from the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) took from a patient the tumour sample – a one millimetre cubed piece of breast cancer tissue biopsy – containing around 100,000 cells, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
The team cut the tissue into wafer thin slices and scanned them. Then they stained the slices with markers to show their molecular make-up and DNA characteristics.
The tumour was rebuilt using VR, which was analysed within a VR laboratory.
In order to study the tumour, the researchers became avatars within the ‘virtual’ laboratory whilst the cancer was represented by a multi-coloured mass of bubbles.
Although the human tissue sample was about the size of a pinhead, within the virtual laboratory it could be magnified to appear several metres across. The VR system allowed the researchers to “fly through” the cells to explore the tumour in more detail.