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Scientists develop VR cancer model

Scientists have built a virtual reality (VR) model of cancer.

Cancer researchers in Cambridge have developed a 3D model of a tumour sample which was taken from a patient, so it can be studied in detail and from all angles, with each individual cell mapped.

According to the BBC, the VR model is expected to increase researchers' understanding of cancer and help in the search for new treatments, as the fact that it is accessible via virtual reality means that multiple users from anywhere in the world can examine the tumour.

Professor Greg Hannon, director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK), told the BBC: "No-one has examined the geography of a tumour in this level of detail before; it is a new way of looking at cancer."

The human tissue extracted from the patient was only the size of a pinhead, but thanks to the VR technology, scientists are able to view it at several metres across, giving them a detailed view of the cells.

And according to Professor Karen Vousden, CRUK's chief scientist, the new technology is also helping to examine how specific genes help protect us from cancer, and what happens when they go wrong.

She told the BBC: "Understanding how cancer cells interact with each other and with healthy tissue is critical if we are going to develop new therapies - looking at tumours using this new system is so much more dynamic than the static 2D versions we are used to."

The virtual tumour project is part of an international research scheme, as well as part of CRUK's Grand Challenge Awards.

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