Biology and physics brought together at VULCAN

The bio-team at the STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Some of the Queen's ASAIL researchers from both the CCRCB and Physics have collaborated together on a series of experiments at the STFC's Central Laser Facility.

The experiments, which concluded last week, should help shed light on the effects of laser-driven proton beams on human skin cells.  

Dr Pankaj Chaudhary said: 'we are trying to study the effects of laser accelerated ions on DNA damage and repair in normal cells.  Ion beams are quite effective in sparing the normal tissues, compared to normal radiotherapy employing x-rays, because they offer better control of where the dose is deposited'.

Postgraduate student Deborah Gwynne explained the process: 'We prepared normal human fibroblast cells under different conditions - some under hypoxic, or reduced oxygen conditions, some under normal conditions'.  These cells are then fitted with a film detector, which used to monitor the dose deposited, before being sent to the laser lab for targetting with the proton beam. 

Dr Domenico Doria, working in the laser lab, added: 'one of the the peculiarities of using a laser-driven proton beam is its ultra-short pulse nature, leading to an ultra-high dose rate - about one Gray in one billionth of a second'.

The plan is to measure the relationship between dose and the damage under these different conditions, and to obtain information of relevance to future medical purposes.

The team hopes to collate and publish their results shortly.


27 October 2015