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Lasers light up India-UK collaboration

More than 1 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in India annually. But an important treatment tool using laser technology is unavailable for the majority of the country’s 1.2Bn people. A medical revolution could be waiting at the tip of a laser thanks to a Newton Fund programme pairing UK universities and Indian Institutes to work on treatments that may help diagnose and fight cancer faster.

Radiotherapy, a common cancer treatment using high-energy rays on large areas of the body, does not discriminate between healthy and unhealthy tissues. The UK is leading the way in new laser-plasma research for cancer therapies, and thus was was chosen as an area for collaboration. Teams from UK universities and Indian Institutes are exploring these technologies and training a new generation of Indian researchers.

Dr Rajeev Pattathil is based at the Central Laser Facility (CLF) in the UK and heads up the UK-India collaboration. He says that the majority of developing countries would not be able to afford new laser treatments because of the cost of buying and running the equipment needed. The idea is to use lasers like those based at CLF to make a cheaper and easier alternatives to facilitate the implementation of laser technologies.

“We work with both our user community in UK universities and our Indian partners to facilitate the exchange of ideas. It builds up knowledge capacity in India to exploit this next-generation technology.” Dr Pattahil, Science And Technology Facilities Council.

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