Cancer Has a New Enemy: Virtual Reality

As virtual reality has grown in popularity, the majority of use cases have been gaming. However, if some enterprising people in Australia have their way, we'll soon be using VR to save lives.

According to Mashable Australia, the University of South Wales has developed a program that lets people get up close and personal with certain medical conditions, including breast cancer.

Although it's currently used for educational purposes, John McGhee, director of the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab at UNSW, has great hopes for the technology. He's used both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive in his work and collaborated with researchers at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney and the University of Queensland to create VR models of specific ailments.

In one instance, the Unity-based software was used to recreate the blood vessel of a patient who has undergone a stroke using their MRI or CT scans. From there, the resulting data is stripped down to the vascular system and used to walk the patient through the stroke, recreated in VR.

The tech has also been used to create a cancerous breast cell, adding texture and color. The additional detail can potentially help doctors and scientists map out how the disease works as it absorbs nanopartical drugs.

Overall, it's encouraging to see virtual reality being used for more than flailing around in a fantasy world. Even though using virtual reality for medical research is fairly new, it could be a powerful tool in the arsenal against life-threatening illness.