Cancer visible from inside.
That is what allows three-dimensional tumor models that can be explored using virtual reality technology.
Virtual tumors, developed by scientists at Cambridge University, provide new ways to see and understand disease.
Cancer in question can be studied in detail and from all angles, with each cell mapped, that is represented graphically.
The researchers said that the model, made from tumor samples taken from patients, would improve our understanding of cancer and will help in finding new treatments.
To carry out the project, which is part of an international investigation, scientists used a breast cancer biopsy with dimensions of 1 millimeter and about 100,000 different cells.
Very fine pieces are extracted from the sample it is scannedroand then coloringron with markers to show the molecular composition and characteristics of its DNA.
After this, the tumor is reconstructed using virtual reality. It can be analyzed in any laboratory that has this technology.
In fact, virtual reality systems allow many users from anywhere in the world to examine tumors.
"No one checked before tumor geography with this level of detail; this is a new way of looking at cancer"Professor Greg Hannon, director of the British Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge (CRUK), told the BBC.
The "Virtual Tumor" project is part of the CRUK Grand Challenge Awards.
In a "virtual" laboratory, Professor Hannon and I became avatars. Cancer is represented by a mass of colorful bubbles.
And even though the sample of human tissue is about the size of a pin head, in a virtual laboratory it can be expanded to several meters.
To explore tumors in more detail, virtual reality systems allow us to "fly through cells".
And while Professor Hannon turned the model, he pointed to a group of cells that flew out of the main group: "Here you can see some tumor cells that have come out of the ASI duct where the breast cancer sample was collected."
"This can be the point where the cancer spreads to the surrounding tissue, and That becomes very dangerous. "Examination of tumors in 3D allows us to capture this moment," he said.
Professor Karen Vousden, CRUK chief scientist, runs a laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London, which examines how specific genes help protect us from cancer and what happens when they are wrong.
"Understand how cancer cells interact with each other and with healthy tissue is basic if we will develop new therapies, "he explained.
"This system is far more dynamic than the static version in 2D that we are used to," Vousden said.