Using Virtual Reality To Find a Cure For Cancer

Virtual reality is for more than just pretending to be Batman, or a Jedi.

Virtual reality is currently used on projects for the blind see, managing chronic pain and enabling scientists to walk around inside cancer cells to investigate their projects at a much deeper level than ever before.

Now, global experts across cancer research, interactive technology and VR content development will team up with The Sony Foundation and Tour de Cure to hopefully make the next discovery in the fight against cancer - with a $500,000 funding grant up for grabs.

Although Virtual Reality research is on the rise, the number of virtual reality content developers translating this research into practical VR applications is low, according to The Sony Foundation.

"In a world where cancer research receives millions in grant support every year, breakthrough technologies like this are not yet being used to their potential as part of cancer research in Australia," the Fpundation said in a statement.

Sophie Ryan, Sony Foundation's CEO says it is a "unique role" the foundation could play in this space - bringing together cancer researchers and the best in the VR tech industry globally.

"We hope that we will uncover a brilliant idea to fund the application of VR to support youth cancer patients that hasn't been seen before. And, we are excited to foster new networks for collaboration between some of the leading VR developers around the world with cancer researchers to ignite future interest and investment in this type of game-changing research."

While rates of cancer survival in adults continues to grow, thanks to cancer research, there has been little improvement in survival rates for adolescent and young adults over the last 25 years. Alarmingly, less than 6 per cent of young Australians diagnosed with cancer aged 15-25 are on clinical trial.

The partnership between Sony Foundation and Tour de Cure seeks to close the gap on enabling leading edge technology applications in Cancer research projects benefitting youth cancer.

"It is important to see industry and medical research collaborating to fund new and innovative initiatives in medical research such as this," said Chuck Bailey, PhD Senior Research Officer Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Centenary Institute.

Close collaboration of traditional cancer research organisations with virtual reality content creators from the technology and interactive media industry will be needed for this to work. Virtual Reality therapies need to be taken beyond pain management and distraction techniques.

Grant applications are now open to prospective cancer research organisations until September 28, 2018.

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