IAEA Biological Dosimetry Model Laboratory Receives Equipment via Public-Private Partnership

A new advanced microscope-based platform capable of identifying and quantifying radiation exposure in people was donated to the IAEA today. It will be set up in the Biological Dosimetry Model Laboratory (BDML) at the IAEA Seibersdorf site. The commissioning of the equipment in the coming weeks will be the first step towards establishing services of the lab.

“This public-private partnership comes at a time when newly available data is showing that even low radiation doses received during CT scanning can be detected with these biodosimetry methods. These methods can detect radiosensitive individuals who may require radiation procedures, so application of this technique to other radiation medicine fields such as radiation oncology and nuclear medicine are being studied”, said May Abdel-Wahab, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Human Health. Radiosensitive individuals are people who have a relatively higher susceptibility to radiation effects that could cause injuries to their cells and tissues.

This equipment is provided by the German company MetaSystems, and will be used for semi-automatic biodosimetry analyses. The value of the donation is 180,000 euros. The biodosimetry lab will be a model reference centre, which will provide training opportunities for fellows in this area. The BDML has also received financial support from France and support in staffing from the United States of America. The model laboratory will be a reference lab for IAEA member states who are considering establishing or expanding their own national or regional biodosimetry capabilities using the IAEA Technical Cooperation and Coordinated Research Activities mechanisms.

Biodosimetry is used to measure the dose of ionizing radiation to human tissues after exposure has occurred. This microscope system can measure biological markers such as chromosomal abnormalities in white blood cells to quantify the received dose of radiation by an individual.

Oleg Belyakov, project leader at the IAEA Biological Dosimetry Model Laboratory and the donated microscope platform (Photos: IAEA – last picture: courtesy of MetaSystems)

“This platform is an important tool for biological dosimetry which allows radiation dose reconstruction received by patients after planned or accidental exposure to ionizing radiation,” said Oleg Belyakov, IAEA Radiation Biologist and project leader at the BDML. “Biodosimetry methods and infrastructure can also be used for other applications such as molecular research, medical cytogenetics, and forensics.”

Biodosimetry methods are playing an increasingly important role in radiation oncology, nuclear medicine, as well as diagnostic and interventional radiology and can be used to better assess the quality of health care provided using radiation technologies.

“The acquisition of such advanced equipment will play an important role towards research and training that will be possible at the BDML. With this equipment, trainees from IAEA Member States will have the opportunity to learn and practice biodosimetry techniques and further the support that the IAEA can provide in this important field”, said Ambassador Gerhard Küntzle, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna.

In response to requests from Member States, biological dosimetry has become an important focus of IAEA Coordinated Research Activities. The IAEA conducted the first Coordinated Research Project on this topic in 2012-2017 to improve current biodosimetry techniques and intensify collaboration and networking among different institutes globally. Following its success an ongoing coordinated research project was initiated in 2017 for five years focused on the use biodosimetry methods in radiation medicine. The project was recently extended until 2023 because of the promising interim results and the need to introduce its findings in clinical practice.

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