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Virtual reality cancer research projects gaining momentum with Sony and Tour de Cure backing

Three Australia-based research groups have received funding of $520,000 for the development of virtual reality (VR) tools and therapy methods for cancer-stricken youngsters. The recipients of the award include the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, and a joint research project between The MARCS Institute at Western Sydney University and the Liverpool Hospital. The grant fundings have the backing of the Sony Foundation Australia, the charity run Sony, and Tour de Cure, an Australian charity for cancer.


Dan Catchpoole, Associate Professor at the Westmead Children’s Hospital, will incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology to study cancer-stricken groups of youngsters. The process will focus on accumulating and exploring particular biological and genetic information, and running comparisons between them.

Sony Foundation Australia, in its statement, expressed that the latest VR development will aid in identifying the biological characteristics and genetic traits of every patient. That type of information is then analysed to determine the most ideal cancer treatment for patients.

Professor Sean O’Donoghue of Garvan will utilise virtual reality (VR) to generate three-dimensional models, which are used by medical professionals to create visual representations of molecular activities taking place within cancerous tumours.

Aquaria, an online resource pool created by joint development at CSIRO and the Garvan Institute, is the inspiration behind the project. Aquaria contains millions of images showing how molecules move about and perform their activities within a cell environment.

The virtual reality platform will enable researchers to effortlessly detect and perform explorations of molecular-level happenings related to cancer among individual humans or groups. – Sean O’Donoghue

He explained that his team will use its expertise for developing computational interaction methods, to be used by the researchers and patients. It will enable both groups to interact with three-dimensional molecule models with their gestures, within a virtual reality setting.

The virtual reality-based visualisations will be used for helping young cancer patients gain a clearer understanding of their particular condition.

Liverpool Hospital and University of New South Wales professor Alwin Chaun, and Kate Stevens from the MARCS Institute, are set to utilise the grant they have received for facilitating easy access to cognitive pain management therapy disciplines and virtual psychologists.

Sony Foundation Australia also remarked that the development will be catered in the forms of visual therapies and virtual reality psychologists. Cancer patients will be able to take charge of their pain management and control the pace of their own therapies.

Around a thousand 15 to 25-year-olds in Australia are diagnosed with cancer annually. Regardless of the growing cancer patient survival rates over the last few decades, youngsters are still at maximum risk. Youth cancer research funding is just six percent of all cancer research.

Sophie Ryan, CEO, Sony Foundation Australia, shared her insights regarding the development, stating that the collaboration between Sony and researchers can produce results in regards to youth cancer breakthroughs.

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