8 June 2015

What’s Going on in Nuclear Applications: An Insight into the Laboratories’ Work

Irene Meki, NAFA

Irene Meki, IAEA consultant from Nairobi, Kenya. Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Division of Food and Agriculuture

The latest ‘What’s Going on in NA’ Seminar in the last week of May focused on activities taking place at two of the IAEA laboratories located in Seibersdorf in Austria. Ms Irene Meki from Kenya has been working at the Insect Pest Control Laboratory (IPCL) and presented on the ‘Molecular Identification of tsetse species: prerequisite for Sterile Insect technique applications’, while Ms Barbara Bencsik from Hungary has been working at the Dosimetry Laboratory and presented on ‘IAEA/WHO thermo luminescent dosimeter (TLD) postal dose audit service and support to national Quality Assurance audit networks for radiotherapy dosimetry’.

Ms Meki and Bencsik have been conducting intensive research on their specialization topics throughout the past year and their interventions provided a further insight to the activities currently being undertaken IAEA’s Food and Agriculture, and Health Divisions.

After addressing the problem of major insect pests that target crops, animals and humans and the need to manage these pests effectively, Ms Meki introduced her work at the IPCL related to applied research on mass rearing, sterilization, quality control and genetics of major insect pests. Thereafter, she discussed several cost effective tools that can be applied to identify tsetse species. This is important as the Sterile Insect Technique can only be applied successfully when the correct species is being mass-reared for release. This identification is being realized through the use of molecular tools such as the ITS1 that can distinguish several species according to differences in DNA size/patterns; and other microsatellites and mitochondrial markers.

Barbara Bencsik, NAHU

Barbara Bencsiki, IAEA intern from Budapest, Hungary. Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Division of Human Health

Ms Bencsik then presented her work on the thermo luminescent dosimeter postal dose audit service. Providing this service is one of the main tasks of the Dosimetry Laboratory as well as supporting national Quality Assurance audit networks in Member States to help them keeping safe in radiotherapy. This service has been used to check more than 10, 000 high-energy clinical photon beams in 131 countries since its launch in 1969 and currently, approximately 700 beams per year are checked in radiotherapy centres across the globe.

The service is offered to IAEA Member States that are eligible to receive Technical Cooperation support from the IAEA and to the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States upon WHO’s request. It is cost free to participants and spot checks the calibration of clinical tele therapy photon beams (Co-60 and megavoltage beams from accelerators). The audit methodology is continuously under evaluation. Tutorial video about steps of irradiation is available here.

Ms Bencsik also presented the results of a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) which was organized by the IAEA in order to develop a test methodology for auditing of advanced radiotherapy dose delivery. Sixteen institutions from 14 countries have participated in this test. The methodology of this audit was examined through a multicentre study and proved to work well. The analysis criteria adopted for this study have then been confirmed for future use by national dosimetry audit programs in the countries participating in this successful CRP.