Radiation Biology

Radiation Biology

Inter-university Accelerator Centre, New Delhi, India

Heavy Ion Radiation Biology is an interdisciplinary applied science involving Atomic and Nuclear Physics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. The current research in this field investigates the effects of accelerated charged particles on the biological systems at the molecular level. In that sense, the research field that is intended to be pursued at IUAC may be termed Molecular Radiation Biology.

The Radiation Biology research facility in terms of a dedicated beam line and a molecular biology laboratory is very much suitable for carrying out fundamental research in this field keeping up pace with the other laboratories in the world. Various experiments can be designed to study the molecular mechanisms leading to the radiation induced effects.

Various experiments may be planned by choosing suitable projectiles with appropriate energies to irradiate the samples of interest. The dedicated beam line for Heavy Ion Radiation Biology is designed for experiments using low flux of accelerated particles. The irradiation is done using a computer controlled system called ASPIRE. The support laboratory includes cell culture facility and other equipment for sample preparation and post irradiation treatments and analysis.

The obtained data may be used for :

  • Modeling radiation effects
  • Heavy Ion Cancer therapy
  • Radiation protection in manned space flights
  • Exploring different pathways to radiation induced effects

Research Programmes

High LET Radiation Biology

Works are being carried out to study the response of cancer and normal cell lines exposed to high LET radiation.

  • Study on the role of PARP-1 in DNA double strand breaks repair and apoptosis in cancer cell lines by 12C6+ ion beam irradiation.
  • Study on genotoxic effect and mRNA expression of human cord blood stem cells and blood lymphocytes on exposure to high LET radiation. Research on investigation of mechanism of neoplastic transformation in normal cells and radiation induced leukemogenesis in hematopoietic stem cells is also carried out.
  • Study on activation of sensor proteins such as ATM/ATR and kinases involved in DNA repair, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis pathway in lung cancer cells irradiated with high LET radiation.
  • Evaluation of factors responsible for Bystander effect of high LET exposed cancer cells.
  • Assessment of High and Low Let radiation effects on Chinese hamster ovary cells(CHO) or Murine Macrophage cells with exploration of cellular mechanism involved. The objective is to investigate the time-dependent regulation by Moringa oleifera leaf extract and its active components (Quercetin, Ferulic Acid, Rutin) on the activity of the main transcription factors (NF-κB and nuclear transcription factor erythroid 2p45-related factor (Nrf2)) related to antioxidant defense in radiation induced oxidative stress pathways.
Radiation Biology with nano-particles

Radiosensitization Studies using Gold Nanoparticles

Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have interesting property of binding to various biomolecules and therefore have potentials for use in biomedical applications such as diagnostics and therapeutics and in cell imaging (due to their contrast enhancement effect), targeting as well as drug delivery applications (due to their tunable physical and chemical properties). We initiated preliminary studies to evaluate AuNP mediated modification in both gamma ray and heavy ion irradiation response of cancer cell lines. Glucose capped gold nanoparticles are internalised into the cells to estimate the radiosensitization effect. Efforts are also made to conjugate gold nanoparticles with anti-EGFR so as to inhibit the EGFR expression in lung cancer cells and to investigate the radiosensitivity on exposure to high LET radiation. Research is also carried out in the field application of gold nanoparticles in cancer diagnosis and sensing.

  • Effect of 45 MeV 7Li and 68 MeV 16O charged particles on the microsomal membrane fluidity. M. Srivastava, D. Choudhary, A. Sarma and R.K. Kale, Current Science, 74, No.1(1998) 58
  • Effect of high LET radiation on biological membranes. D. Choudhary, M. Srivastava, A. Sarma and R.K. Kale, Radiat Environ Biophys, 37, No.3(1998), 177-185
  • Response to glyoxalase system to low doses of mixed radiation. D. Choudhary, D.Chandra, S.P. Lochab, A. Sarma and R.K. Kale. Physica Medica, Vol XV, N.1, January - March 1999, page 27
  • Effect of 7Li (45 MeV) ions on spinach leaves studied by thermoluminescence technique. Jyoti Gaikwad, S. Thomas, S. Kamble, P.B. Vidyasagar and A. Sarma, Nucl. Instr. And Meth. In Phys. Res. B 156 (1999) 231-235
  • Effect of ionizing radiation: induced damage and protection in normal and denatured supercoiled DNA and minichromatins formed on them. S. De, S. Ray Chaudhuri, A. Sarma and A.R. Thakur, Indian J. Phys. 73B (5), 1999, 795 – 804
  • Study of Carbonaceous Clusters in Irradiated Polycarbonate with UV-vis Spectroscopy, S. Gupta, D. Choudhary, A. Sarma, Journal of Polymer Science; Part B: Polymer Physics, Vol. 38, 2000, 1589 – 1594
  • Effect of low doses of n-g mixed radiation on bioreductive enzymes in different tissues of mice. : D.Chandra, D.Choudhary, S.P.Lochab, A.Sarma, R.K.Kale, Physica Medica, Vol XVI, No.2, April-June 2000.
  • Alpha-tocopherol protection against oxidative membrane damage induced by high LET radiation, Choudhary D., Sarma A, Kale RK, (2000), Research Communications in Biochemistry, Cell and molecular Biology, 4(3-4), 245-258.
  • Irradiation of Thymine by 16O heavy ion in aerated condition. Pratyush Purkayastha, A.N. Talukdar and A. Sarma, Indian Journal of Pure and Applied Physics, Vol.39, November 2001, p 691-693
  • Response of the FBX system to carbon beam: its potential as a dosimeter in heavy particle radiotherapy, MK Semwal, Milan Banerjee, Asiti Sarma and PB Vidyasagar, Phys. Med. Biol. 47 (2002), N179-N183
  • Biological effects induced by swift heavy ions of Lithium on aqueous solution of plasmid pMTa4, J.O. Humtsoe, F.H.A. Schneeweiss, A. Srivastava, A. Sarma, R.N. Sharan, Radiation Effects and Defects in Solids, August 2003, Vol 158, pp 603-607
  • Response of FBX Dosimeter to high LET 7Li and 12C ions, N. N. Bhat, D. Choudhary, A. Sarma, B.L. Gupta and K. Siddappa, : Radiation Physics and Chemistry, 68 (2003), 909-916
  • Effect of Heavy Ion Irradiation on DNA DSB Repair in Methanosarcina Barkeri. Ray chaudhury S, Karmakar P, Choudhary D, Sarma A, Thakur A R, Anaerobe 2003 Feb;9(1):15-21
  • Assesment of 1H heavy ion irradiation induced effects in the development of rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings, M. Kalimullah, J.U. Gaikwad, S. Thomas, A. Sarma, P.B. Vidyasagar, Plant Science 165 (2003), 447-454
  • Expression of NF-kappaB and ERK following heavy ion irradiation. Mitra AK, Sarma A, Krishna M, Verma NC, J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol 2004;23(1):53-9.
  • Alteration in the expression of signaling parameters following carbon ion irradiation. Mitra AK, Bhat N, Sarma A, Krishna M, Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Aug;276(1-2):169-73.
  • Response to high LET radiation 12C (LET, 295 keV/microm) in M5 cells, a radio resistant cell strain derived from Chinese hamster V79 cells. Pathak R, Sarma A, Sengupta B, Dey SK, Khuda-Baksh AR, Int J Radiat Biol. 2007 Jan;83(1):53-63.
  • Genotoxic effects in M5 cells and Chinese hamster V79 cells after exposure to 7Li-beam (LET=60 keV/microm) and correlation of their survival dynamics to nuclear damages and cell death. Pathak R, Sarma A, Dey SK, Khuda-Baksh AR Mutat Res. Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis 2007 Mar 30;628(1):56-66.
  • Effect of 7Li radiation on endogenous hormonal level on developing cotton fiber. Kunjal Bhatt, Asiti Sarma & Vrinda Thaker, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology Vol. 46, September 2008, pp. 677-680
  • The influence of reduced glutathione on chromosome damage induced by X-rays or heavy ion beams of different LETs and on the interaction of DNA lesions induced by radiations and bleomycin. Geetanjali Pujari, A. Sarma, A. Chatterjee, Mutation Research, Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis 696 (2010) 154-159
  • Activation of DNA damage response signaling in lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells following oxygen beam irradiation. Ghosh S, Narang H, Sarma A, Kaur H, Krishna M, Mutation Research, 2011 Aug 16;723(2):190-8. Epub 2011 May 14.
  • DNA damage response signaling in lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells following gamma and carbon beam irradiation. Ghosh S, Narang H, Sarma A, Krishna M. Mutat Res. 2011 Nov 1; 716(1-2):10-9. Epub 2011 Aug 3.
Current User Projects
  • Molecular action of Moringa Oleifera leaf extract and its active components on radiation protection: assessment of low and high LET radiation effectiveness. [Dr. Sanjit Dey, Calcutta University, Kolkata.]
  • Characterization of Factor(s) Responsible for Bystander Effects After High LET Irradiation of Cultured Cells. [Prof. L.C. Padhy, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar]
  • Study of effect of high LET radiation on signaling Pathways in Human lung carcinoma cell line A 549. [Himanshi Narang, BARC Mumbai.]
  • High LET radiation induced Genomic instability in human stem cells, [Prof. S.K. Dey, WBUT, Kolkata]
  • Induction of apoptosis by heavy ion beam in Human Cervical Epithelial Carcinoma (HeLa) cells in presence and absence of PARP inhibitor. [Dr. U. Ghosh, Kalyani University]
  • Study on the radiosensitization effect by EGFR inhibition in lung cancer cells using anti-EGFR antibody conjugated gold nanoparticles to improve radiotherapeutic response. [Dr. G. Pujari, IUAC]
Group Members
Members of Radiation Biology Group
  • Dr. Asitikantha Sarma, Incharge

    Radiation Biology Programme
  • Dr. Geetanjali Pujari

    Young Scientist (DST)
  • Dr. Mriganka Mandal

    (Research Associate (IUAC)
  • Ms Harminder Kaur

    Research Scholar
  • Dr. D.K. Avasthi

    Group Leader

Experimental Facilities


The research facility at IUAC provides a dedicated Radiation Biology Beam line equipped with the irradiation system called ASPIRE [Automatic Sample Positioning for Irradiation in Radiation Biology Experiments].

This is a computer controlled system that enables one to irradiate cells placed on 35 mm petri dishes kept in medium in a sterile condition one after another at quick succession with predetermined particle dose.

The uniformity as well as fluence verification has been done using irradiating SSNTD [CN-85] and subsequent etching. The tracks were counted using microscope over accurately measured areas across the entire irradiation field of 40 mm diameter. The uniformity over a field of 40 mm diameter is having 2 % standard deviation. The mean fluence is within 1 % of the electronically measured value at the centre of the field.

Photo Gallery

Beam Exit Window, 40 mm diameter
ASPIRE System at the Radiation Biology Beam Line
Console at the Data Room
ASPIRE Inside showing UV Tube for decontamination
Etched Tracks created on CN85 by irradiating with Carbon Beam (62 MeV) of fluence 1e06 p/cm2
Irradiation Field Profile (62 MeV Carbon)
Beam Parameters

Radiation Biology Beam Line

Important information

Beam Beam energy from accelerator [MeV] Energy on the Cell Surface [MeV] Corresponding Entrance LET in water [KeV/µm]
7 Li 50 45 60
11 B 65 48.7 218
12 C 85 62 290
16 O 100 56 614

All the above values give a tentative picture in order to plan an experiment. The parameters may be adjusted and evaluated during the beam time. The available beam energy also depends on the machine condition during the run.

Particle Flux : 1-2 x 105 particles/cm2 /sec

All the irradiation jobs are done at the atmospheric pressure. The samples have to be prepared in form of a monolayer. The attaching types of mammalian cells are grown on a 35 mm NUNC Petri-dish. The dishes are irradiated in a horizontal position. Non attaching cells can also be irradiated in the horizontal position using a special method. Irradiation with a pre-determined fluence and subsequent repetitions can be done using a the irradiation system called ASPIRE.

Cell Culture Facility

Photo Gallery

Coulter Cell Counter
CO2 Incubators, [NuAire]
Bio safety Cabinet (Class II) [Esco]
Bio safety Cabinet (Class II) [Heraeus]
Analytical Facility

Photo Gallery

Gel Electrophoresis
UV Vis Spectrophotometer [Hitachi]
PCR [Applied Biosystems]
96 Well Multi Mode Plate Reader
Centrifuge [Eppendorf]
Fluorescence Microscope [Zeiss]
Storage Facility
-80 C Deep Freezer [HETO], -20 C Freezer [Vestfrost], Refrigerator [Vestfrost, Godrej]. Also shown in the picture a small Laminar Flow Bench

Contact Person

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