India produces first indigenous eye cancer treatment

15 January 2021

India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed a process to harvest medical-grade ruthenium-106, allowing the indigenous production of plaques of the material for use in eye cancer therapy. Ruthenium is a fission by-product of the nuclear reprocessing cycle.

BARC's round (a) and notched (b) Ru-106 plaques (Image: DAE)

The use of ruthenium plaques - curved metal discs containing the radioactive isotope - is a proven technique for the treatment of different types of eye cancers, but its availability in India has been limited owing to expensive imported sources, India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has said. The availability of indigenously produced Ru-106 plaques will reduce the cost of treatment and help to save the vision of a large number of patients, it added.

Chemically pure Ru-106 is obtained through a selective separation and purification process and is then electro-deposited over silver discs. It is subsequently sealed in a controlled atmosphere to produce the plaques.

The first batch of Ru-106 plaques, with a round configuration, were evaluated at Indian ophthalmic centres including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, and confirmed to meet international standards, the DAE said. A second batch, with a notched configuration, was also evaluated. The plaques were first used to treat a patient in September 2020 and were used successfully in 10 cases within two months.

Ru-106 plaques are supplied to hospitals through India's Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology, which is an industrial unit of DAE.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News