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BARC develops Ruthenium plaque for eye cancer therapy

 
 

Ru-106 Plaque

BARC develops Ruthenium plaque indigenously for eye cancer therapy. (a) Round configuration of the Ru-106 plaque developed by BARC, (b) Notched configuration plaque for cancers located adjacent to optical nerve, (c) Affected eye before treatment using Ru-106 plaque (Courtesy: Sankara Eye Hospital, Bengaluru), (d) Patient receiving treatment using Ru-106 plaque (Courtesy: Centre for Sight Hospital, Hyderabad), (e) Affected eye after the treatment using Ru-106 plaque (Courtesy: Sankara Eye Hospital, Bengaluru)

 

A Major Breakthrough

A team of scientists from BARC has developed the first indigenous Ruthenium (Ru-106) Plaque for eye cancer therapy. Ruthenium is a fission by-product of the nuclear reprocessing cycle with a typical yield of ~0.4%. As the fission reaction produces several other components, it’s important to harvest radio-chemically pure Ru-106 for medical applications. The process of selective separation and purification of Ru-106 requires a series of scientifically-involved steps. Pure Ru-106 thus obtained is electro-deposited over silver discs and is subsequently sealed under controlled atmosphere to produce the plaques.

 

An Indigenous Development

BARC has developed the process to recover medical-grade Ru-160 and also to make plaques indigenously. The plaques are extensively tested as per the specifications approved by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and endorsed by third-party assessment. Ru-106 plaques are supplied to hospitals through Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT), an industrial unit of DAE.

 

Use of Ruthenium plaque is a proven technique for the treatment of different types of eye cancers. However, its availability has been limited due to expensive imported sources. Availability of Ru-106 plaque as an import substitute will reduce the cost of treatment and help to save vision of a large number of patients. 
 

Satisfactory Results

The first batch of Ru-106 plaques, with round configuration, have been evaluated by leading ophthalmic centres like Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, New Delhi; Centre for Sight Hospital, Hyderabad and Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore. Ophthalmic surgeons have confirmed that the BARC plaque handling is surgeon-friendly and is at par with international standards in all aspects. Second batch, having notched configuration, was sent to above ophthalmic centres for evaluation. Within two months, 10 patients have been treated satisfactorily using these plaques.