National Physical Laboratory

Development of a pre-clinical dosimetry service for radiobiological studies

Small Animal Radiation Research Platform, designed to match standard of care for radiation treatments in a pre-clinical setting
Small Animal Radiation Research Platform, designed to match standard of care for radiation treatments in a pre-clinical setting

Contrary to clinical settings (where dose uncertainties are less than 3%), radiobiological experiments are affected by dose uncertainties of around 20% to 35%, which hamper translational progress and demand higher number of animals for statistically significant data. The need for standardization and improved dosimetry for pre-clinical studies has been identified by researchers, funding agencies and regulatory bodies, and is a priority of the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group (CTRad). It was also addressed the Integrity in Research POSTNote published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

3D printed bone equivalent mouse skeleton
3D printed bone equivalent mouse skeleton

Funded through Innovate UK's Non-Animal Technologies programme, the project aims to develop the necessary support and infrastructure to ensure that facilities for radiation biology and animal irradiations use dosimetry equipment and methodology which are properly characterized, well documented and traceable to national standards.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • Design and development of an experimental set up for full characterization of the radiation sources used in radiobiological experiments in compliance with international codes of practice
  • Practical recommendations and a national service for QA and dosimetry measurements for pre-clinical irradiators
  • Traceable characterization of a wide range of detectors (alanine, Gafchromic films, TLDs) at the required radiation quality
  • Development of a multipurpose phantom for assessing accuracy of dose delivered during animal radiobiology experiments
  • Development of a microfluidic device to be integrated with small animal phantom for in-vivo like radiobiological studies

The Radiation Dosimetry group at NPL develops and maintains standards for radiotherapy, performs audits, offers dosimetry training and contributes to good practice guides and codes of practice. The collaboration includes NPL, the University of Hull and Xstrahl Ltd who will combine and utilise their extensive knowledge, expertise and infrastructure. The project started in March 2016.

For more information and to find out how NPL can help, please contact

Read Giuseppe Schettino's guest blogpost on the project for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.

Pre-clinical dosimetry UK capability



Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission