DOST-PNRI sets up state-of-the-art facility to monitor radiation exposures in human body

Published January 5, 2022, 1:09 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) established a state-of-the-art facility to monitor radiation exposures in the human body in a bid to ensure the safety of nuclear workers and radiotherapy patients.


DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said the establishment of the facility, which was part of the PNRI’s international commitment, was funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

He said the facility combines robotics, intelligent image analysis, and molecular diagnostic technique to monitor radiation exposures in the human body by analyzing blood samples.

“Accurate biodosimetry is needed to estimate radiation doses received by individuals. This S&T capacity is a crucial step to support the safety culture of nuclear workers, like our clinicians in the nuclear medicine wards, to deliver better healthcare for radiotherapy patients undergoing cancer treatment, and to protect the Filipino public in the event of accidental or unwarranted radiation exposures,” de la Peña said in a taped report.

The DOST chief also disclosed the PNRI’s development of clinical protocols in the radio sensitivity assessment of cancer patients, in collaboration with the Department of Radiotherapy of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.

“This move has helped bring the concept of Precision Medicine to the bedside. Radiotherapy is one of the most effective cancer treatments.”

“However, it is technically impossible to avoid exposure of normal tissues to ionizing radiation. Thus, in many situations, the severity of these reactions limits the radiation dose administered to the tumor.”

De la Peña explained that since it is well documented that there is a wide difference in individual radio sensitivities, if such variations among patients are determined, clinicians will have a solid basis for personalized radiotherapies.

He cited as an example the dose-escalation for “radio resistant” patients to enhance tumor control without an increase in complications or dose reduction for radiosensitive patients.

“The gene-based radio sensitivity assays and monitoring of dicentric frequencies by DOST-PNRI have enabled partner hospitals to design personalized radiation therapies for head and neck, gynecological, and breast cancer patients,” he said.

“The PNRI, with funding of DOST, aims to make it possible to improve radiotherapy with an unimaginable precision and help improve the quality of life of thousands of patients,” de la Peña added.