Nuclear medicine is now a very relevant field of medicine that arouses a keen interest. The Russian state nuclear industry corporation Rosatom has a lot of developments in this area. A cooperation agreement was signed between Rusatom Healthcare (the Rosatom division that accumulates expertise in the field of healthcare) and Medtechnocenter on the sidelines of the international forum Atomexpo in Sochi. The document formalized plans to supply medical equipment manufactured in the Russian Federation. A BelTA correspondent visited the Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automation (NIITFA) in Moscow where such equipment is produced, and found out what new solutions in cancer treatment will be offered to Belarus.
The institute conducts research in a number of areas, including medicine, radiation instruments, radionuclide energy, radiation technologies, non-destructive testing and superconducting materials and equipment. NIITFA instruments are used in all nuclear power plants built by Rosatom, both in the Russian Federation and in other countries. The equipment produced by the institute was also installed at the Belarusian nuclear power plant. In other words, the research center has been cooperating with our country for a long time. The agreement signed in Sochi heralded a new milestone in cooperation in the field of nuclear medicine.
The Belarusian journalists were shown one of the research center's new solutions - the Brachium radiation therapy complex to treat cancer. This equipment is now delivered to healthcare facilities in Russia. The first deliveries to Belarus are scheduled for next year.
According to NIITFA Director General Mikhail Stepichev, Brachium is an upgraded version of the device that was previously produced by the institute called AGAT. “Medical institutions of the USSR, and then Russia and Belarus, actively used these devices; they are still in operation in a number of cancer centers,” he noted. “As for our device, the medical community was very enthusiastic to learn the news about this device, they checked its parameters and characteristics,” he said.
Aleksei Osipov, Director of the Radiotherapy Technologies Department at NIITFA, explained the operation principle of the device. “The technology of contact radiation therapy itself has a fairly long history. Such devices have been produced since the middle of the last century. Their main task is to deliver a small capsule with radiation into the tumor or very close to it. The idea itself has not undergone any significant changes over the past decades. However, the specifications of these devices were greatly improved over time,” he noted. According to him, the main task of the new device and the set of tools that go with it (including the applicator, safety systems, a three-dimensional dose calculation system, etc) is to ensure high efficiency, quality and safety of the procedure.
According to Mikhail Stepichev, the device is not inferior to foreign analogues in terms of technical characteristics, while it is about 40% cheaper. “As far as its operation and maintenance are concerned, the advantage is even more striking. Malfunctions can occur in the process, and there are failures that cannot be fixed on the spot and a spare part needs to be supplied. Now the supply chains have changed a lot in terms of duration, cost, and all these factors have a significant impact on the end user. Therefore, the issue of after-sales service is very important,” he added.
In the context of the sanctions imposed by the West, technological independence is of particular importance for the Belarus-Russia Union State. According to Mikhail Stepichev, almost 80% of the components in the brachytherapy complex are made in Russia. “Regardless of what happens, we will still be able to manufacture, supply, and service this device,” Aleksei Osipov emphasized.
Representatives of Rosatom count on closer cooperation with Belarusian specialists. “We know how much attention is paid to technological advancement in Belarus. You have very serious developments in electronics as well,” said Mikhail Stepichev. Russian specialists intend to collaborate with Belarusian colleagues in various areas.