The Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi, is a centre of excellence in biomedical and clinical research.

Nuclear medicine has emerged as a specialty in medical science as radionuclides are used for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. (A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus that radioactively decays, resulting in the emission of nuclear radiation. It stabilises itself by spontaneously emitting energy and particles).

A radioisotope can be introduced into the human body, through injection or other means. The radiation emitted by the radioisotope is scanned and recorded. It gets distributed in different tissues revealing abnormalities in different organs. The radioactivity is safe for the patient, since it decays very quickly before it can cause any damage. Different isotopes usually concentrate on certain specific organs. For example, if radioactive iodine is injected into a vein, it is quickly taken up into the tissues of the thyroid gland. Further, radioactive substances can be used for curing cancers in their early stages. The substances are implanted; they give limited doses of radiation focussing on the diseased cells.

There are imaging and non-imaging procedures in nuclear medicine. The age-old system of defining diseases in terms of anatomy and histopathology has to some extent given way to new technologies. Ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) identify diseases based on abnormal structure. Radioactive tracers help evaluate the growth of various organs and effect repairs or reconstruction.

Molecular Imaging, which combines molecular biology and live imaging, will show the cellular functions and molecular processes in living organisms. This is an area of significance in the diagnosis of cancer and cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

Sensitivity and anatomical localisation of lesions in the skeleton, brain and heart can be increased through 3D reconstruction of data, using SPECT (Single Photon Emission Tomography).

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a new dimension in imaging technique that gives far better spatial resolution. This is useful in the clinical assessment of myocardial perfusion and viability. There are hybrid systems such as SPECT/CT and PET/CT, which enhance diagnostic accuracy.

INMAS

There is an institution that conducts research in nuclear medicine and related sciences under the umbrella of the Defence Research and Development Organisation: Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), Lucknow Road, Timarpur, Delhi – 110 054;

Website: http://drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs /INMAS/English/index.jsp? pg=homebody.jsp.

To study the consequences of using nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, a radiation cell was established in the Defence Science Laboratory, Delhi, in 1956. Soon, studies stretched to medical uses of nuclear energy as well. In 1959, the cell was upgraded as the Radiation Medicine Division. It was developed further as a full-fledged establishment and renamed the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences in 1961.

During the past half a century, the institute has conducted studies and research on a wide variety of areas in radiation and biomedical sciences. The facilities for researchers include basic items such as flow cytometers, confocal microscope, Gamma irradiators, RT-PCR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction), high-performance liquid chromatography and fluorimeter. Sophisticated diagnostic items of equipment and processes such as MRI, PET-CT, Gamma camera, non-invasive imaging and hormone assay techniques are also available.

INMAS has emerged as a centre of excellence in biomedical and clinical research with special reference to ionising radiation. Its forte is clinical research in nuclear medicine and non-invasive imaging methods with a focus on biological radio-protectors (substances that protect against the injurious effect of radiations) and thyroid disorders.

Activities

INMAS conducts research in the fields of basic and applied medical sciences. These include:

Biodosimetry (use of physiological, chemical or biological markers of exposure of human tissues to ionising radiation for the purpose of reconstructing doses to individuals or populations).

Biological dosimeters (biological dosimetry is the determination of the level of exposure to ionizing radiation energy absorbed by an individual. Dosimeters measure the dose to internal organs and tissues.)

Development of devices, technologies, strategies and approaches for mitigation of NBC and CBRN (nuclear, biological, and chemical and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) emergencies.

Development of molecular imaging drugs and enhancers for armed forces.