Novel iPhone applications developed by University of Utah researchers could help students, doctors and patients study the human body, evaluate medical problems and analyse other three-dimensional images.

The researchers have developed three iPhone apps, which are available via Apple's online iTunes App Store.

The first applications is called ImageVis3D Mobile, which lets iPhone users easily display, rotate and otherwise manipulate 3-D images of medical CT and MRI scans, and a wide range of scientific images, from insects to molecules to engines.

The application, which is available free on the iTunes store, is based on computer software from the university's Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute.

Another application-AnatomyLab-allows students to conduct a "virtual dissection" by providing images of a real human cadaver during 40 separate stages of dissection. All you have to do is hit the "View Cadaver" button.

The software, available for 9.99 dollars, has been designed by biology Professor-Lecturer Mark Nielsen and two University of Utah students, including his son.

The third application, called My Body, a scaled-down version of AnatomyLab, is available for 1.99 dollars and is intended for the general public, including "anyone curious about what their body looks like," said Nielsen.

The SCI Institute is also developing another iPhone app, called ViSUS, which now allows users of desktop and laptop computers - and soon iPhones - to quickly and easily analyse and edit massive image files containing hundreds of gigabytes of data.

ImageVis3D Mobile and ViSUS "help people visualize and manipulate large amounts of image data," particularly biomedical images, said Chris Johnson, director of the SCI Institute and a distinguished professor of computer science.

Nielsen says AnatomyLab is meant for students and teachers, but "a lot of medical professionals are buying it because they can show it to their patients on the spot and clarify injuries or problems they are discussing with them about their body."

Johnson said that doctors could use ImageVis3D Mobile the same way, but with images from patients' own CT or MRI scans.

"We assume the doctor already has looked at and analyzed the image data on a larger display device.

Now he goes back to the patient and can display that visualization interactively on a mobile device like the iPhone without having to go back to a computer screen somewhere else," said Johnson.