Junior atomic energy minister Jitendra Singh, who facilitated the collaboration between the department of atomic energy and Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, lauded BARC for developing the “simple and cost-effective therapy” for eye cancer patients. A DAE statement said the plaque is said to be on par with international standards.
The handling of BARC-developed plaque is very convenient for surgeons and it is said to be on a par with international standards, a statement of the DAE said. Ruthenium plaque therapy involves placing a radioactive source like Ruthenium-106 (a radioisotope) in contact with the surface of the eyeball for cancer therapy. Ru-106 is recovered from radioactive waste and has a simple and slim design. One plaque can treat about 50 patients and its usable life is one year.
Besides AIIMS, it has been made available free of cost to two more hospitals, Hyderabad-based Centre for Sight and Sankara Eye Hospital in Bengaluru. Being indigenously developed by BARC, the Ruthenium-106 plaque also gives a boost to PM Narendra Modi’s ‘vocal for local’ call.
It all started in October last year when DAE chairman K N Vyas held a detailed discussion with Jitendra Singh regarding the feasibility of developing this regimen of ophthalmic patches. Following this, minister Jitendra Singh, who himself is a doctor, facilitated the collaboration between the DAE and AIIMS.
According to Dr Atul Kumar, professor and head of Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, the BARC plaques have been used in seven cases of ocular cancer till now. Out of them, two were used in cases of retinoblastoma, two for choroidal melanoma, two for ocular surface squamous neoplasia and one for choroidal hemangioma.
Jitendra Singh said that in the last five years, DAE has striven to diversify its activities and applications for the benefit of the common man. He said developing the indigenous plaque brachytherapy for eye cancer patients is also one such initiative in the area of medical management.
Jitendra Singh, who also handles the ministry of development of North Eastern Region, also informed that the Borooah Cancer Hospital in Guwahati has been co-opted with the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, Mumbai, which functions under the aegis of the DAE.
The DAE is also contributing in other areas. For example, BARC is developing an advanced bulletproof jacket for security personnel and in the farm sector, it is sharing with food companies its irradiation technique to extend shelf life of vegetables and other perishable food products.