TRACKING DOWN ALPHA-PARTICLES: THE DESIGN, CHARACTERISATION AND TESTING OF A SHALLOW-ANGLED ALPHA-PARTICLE IRRADIATOR.
Thompson JM., Elliott A., D'Abrantes S., Sawakuchi GO., Hill MA.
Human exposure to α-particles from radon and other radionuclides is associated with carcinogenesis, but if well controlled and targeted to cancer cells, α-particles may be used in radiotherapy. Thus, it is important to understand the biological effects of α-particles to predict cancer risk and optimise radiotherapy. To enable studies of α-particles in cells, we developed and characterised an α-particle automated irradiation rig that allows exposures at a shallow angle (70° to the normal) of cell monolayers in a 30 mm diameter dish to complement standard perpendicular irradiations. The measured incident energy of the α-particles was 3.3 ± 0.5 MeV (LET in water = 120 keV μm-1), with a maximum incident dose rate of 1.28 ± 0.02 Gy min-1, which for a 5 μm cell monolayer corresponds to a mean dose rate of 1.57 ± 0.02 Gy min-1 and a mean LET in water of 154 keV μm-1. The feasibility of resolving radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) foci along the track of α-particles was demonstrated using immunofluorescent labelling with γH2AX and 53BP1 in normal MRC-5 human lung cells.