Cyclone-30: India’s biggest cyclotron facility becomes operational

India’s biggest cyclotron facility named Cyclone-30 became operational at Kolkata-based Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), which comes under Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Cyclotron is used to produce radioisotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic use for cancer care. Radiations from these isotopes are used to destroy cancer cells.

Cyclone-30

It will produce radioisotopes vital for diagnosis and treatment of cancer.It will be first and only cyclotron facility in country to produce Germanium 68 radioisotopes, which is used in diagnosis of breast cancer. It will also produce Palladium 103 isotopes, which is used for the treatment of prostate cancer. In its future stages, it will also produce Iodine 123 isotopes, which can help detect thyroid cancer.

It started working for first time when 30 MeV beam reached Faraday Cup (a metal cup designed to catch charged particles in vacuum). The beam from this facility was used to produce fluorine-18 isotope for preparation of radio-pharmaceutical fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which is used for diagnose various types of cancer.It will start regular production by mid-2019 after supporting nuclear systems and regulatory clearances are commissioned.

Significance

The high-energy and high-yielding Cyclone-30 machine will provide for affordable radio isotopes and related radiopharmaceuticals for entire country, especially for eastern states like West Bengal. It will also help in bringing down imports, while raising possibility of exporting radioisotopes in the future. It also has export potential for germanium-68 and gallium-68 generator for in-situ production of gallium-68 and palladium-103 isotopes, which are used for breast cancer diagnosis and prostate cancer treatment, respectively. It can also be used for research in the fields of material science and nuclear physics.

Background

According to new study in Lancet Global Health, 8.3% of total number of deaths in India in 2016 was because of cancer and number of new cases has increased from 5.48 lakh in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2016. At present, many radioisotopes for cancer treatment are imported while some are produced in nuclear research reactors such as Apsara at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and remaining in cyclotrons facilities run by large private hospitals, making cancer treatment costly.

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