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J Radiat Res. 2013 Jul 1;54(4):736-47. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rrs132. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

SPICE-NIRS microbeam: a focused vertical system for proton irradiation of a single cell for radiobiological research.

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Research Development and Support Center, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Inage-ku, Chiba-shi 263-8555, Japan.


The Single Particle Irradiation system to Cell (SPICE) facility at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) is a focused vertical microbeam system designed to irradiate the nuclei of adhesive mammalian cells with a defined number of 3.4 MeV protons. The approximately 2-μm diameter proton beam is focused with a magnetic quadrupole triplet lens and traverses the cells contained in dishes from bottom to top. All procedures for irradiation, such as cell image capturing, cell recognition and position calculation, are automated. The most distinctive characteristic of the system is its stability and high throughput; i.e. 3000 cells in a 5 mm × 5 mm area in a single dish can be routinely irradiated by the 2-μm beam within 15 min (the maximum irradiation speed is 400 cells/min). The number of protons can be set as low as one, at a precision measured by CR-39 detectors to be 99.0%. A variety of targeting modes such as fractional population targeting mode, multi-position targeting mode for nucleus irradiation and cytoplasm targeting mode are available. As an example of multi-position targeting irradiation of mammalian cells, five fluorescent spots in a cell nucleus were demonstrated using the γ-H2AX immune-staining technique. The SPICE performance modes described in this paper are in routine use. SPICE is a joint-use research facility of NIRS and its beam times are distributed for collaborative research.


bystander effect; low dose effect; microbeam; proton; single hit; target irradiation; vertical beam

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