New 3D, 360-degree lab tour explores vital brain tumour research

From its state-of-the-art equipment to world-leading researchers, the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth is the subject of a new 3D, 360-degree virtual lab tour. 

The University's research team uniquely specialises in slow growing tumours – exploring how these tumours grow, why most become cancerous and, ultimately, how to stop them.

Collaborating with Milton Keynes-based company Visual Realms Ltd, Brain Tumour Research has created the insightful virtual experience – believed to be the first 3D, 360-degree virtual brain tumour research lab tour in the UK.

Professor Oliver Hanemann, Chair in Clinical Neurobiology and Principal Investigator at the Centre of Excellence, said:

The team were really happy to get involved to support this project and, although some were a bit camera shy to begin with, we are all very pleased with the end result and the ability it has given us to share our research with supporters.

Virtual lab tour on the Brain Tumour Research website

Brain Tumour Research normally holds regular lab tours, inviting a limited number of supporters who have raised enough to sponsor a day of research, the equivalent of £2,740, to visit and talk to scientists. During their visit, supporters can also put up a tile on the Wall of Hope within the Research Centre to commemorate their achievement or remember a loved one. The tours have been on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brain Tumour Research’s Digital Marketing Manager, Rachael White, who worked alongside Iain Row at Visual Realms to produce the virtual lab tour, said: 

“This is a special lab tour that lets you explore the lab virtually. It’s as if you were on a real lab tour without having to leave home. The viewer is in control and can find out more about different areas in the lab, what individual scientists are focusing on and the pieces of research equipment necessary to conduct cutting edge research, as they navigate their way around the lab using their mouse.”

Visual Realms worked pro bono on the project. Managing director, Iain Rowe, said: 

“We pride ourselves on being able to create virtual tours in difficult and sensitive environments. Capturing the lab tour at Plymouth was a good fit for us as although it’s no replacement for actually visiting, it shows the quality of what’s already there. We were delighted to be helping a very worthy cause.”

The virtual lab tour opens up the experience to potential supporters and organisations for whom long distance travel is prohibitive. It also provides an educational opportunity for schools and the children of supporters under the age of 16, who are unable to visit the charity’s Centres of Excellence on the grounds of health and safety.

As well as funding its Centres of Excellence, Brain Tumour Research also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia, and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence

Around 16,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with a brain tumour. We're working with Brain Tumour Research to improve research and treatment. Brain Tumour Research is an official charity partner of the University and we are one of three universities in the UK working with the charity to improve the treatment and outcomes of brain tumours. Plymouth’s Centre of Excellence specialises in low-grade brain tumours, which are usually benign, slow-growing but ultimately can become malignant. Our focus is to identify and understand the mechanism underlying the development of brain tumours, and explore ways to halt or reverse that mechanism. 

More information about the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence 

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