The fourth dimension is not easily achieved
The fourth dimension of the VIP-Man is not easily achieved, according to Xu. Currently Xu and De are focusing their energy on respiratory function.
“Using advanced computational tools, it is possible to simulate lung movement; however, not in real time,” De says. “For effective radiation therapy, physics-based real-time performance offers the ultimate solution.”
The key challenge in this project is to develop the algorithms that will make the virtual lungs and adjacent tissues move in real time according to realistic tissue biomechanical properties, De says.
Xu expects that the physics-based 4-D VIP-Man will eventually be used as an even more general anatomical modeling tool for the biomedical community to help patients with respiratory and cardiac diseases.
At the same time, Xu will continue to work on the 3-D VIP-Man to create a “family” of virtual patients, ranging in ages and sizes, in collaboration with researchers worldwide through the Consortium of Computational Human Phantoms (www.virtualphantoms.org), co-founded by Xu.
The collaboration with the group in Texas came about when Xu’s former student, Chengyu Shi, a clinical medical physicist, and Martin Fuss, a radiation oncologist, expressed their interests to develop better radiation treatment by accounting for lung movement.
Xu contacted De, who had been using the 3-D VIP-Man to simulate tissue deformation for surgical procedures, and the idea to take 3-D VIP-Man into the fourth dimension was born.