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PartTec's Newly Licensed Neutron Detector Will Advance Human Disease Studies
Date:9/11/2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Sept. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- PartTec, Ltd., an Indiana-based manufacturer of radiation detection technologies, has signed an agreement to manufacture and market a neutron detector system that may help researchers identify the underlying causes of human diseases.

Using the Neutron-Sensitive Anger Camera developed by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, biologists can study a wider variety of proteins. Insight gained from studying these macromolecules could offer cures for diseases such as AIDS and cancer.

"This ORNL detector system, developed for DOE's Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor Complex, can determine the time and position of the neutrons captured, enabling extremely accurate neutron time-of-flight measurements," said Yacouba Diawara of the Instrument and Source Design Division at ORNL. The detector achieves very high efficiency, high timing and position resolution and low background noise at a reduced cost — all characteristics that make it attractive for medical, biological and general scientific research.

"The detector is suited for biological samples because the protein crystals scientists are interested in are very small, about the size of a grain of sand," said Richard Riedel of the Instrument and Source Design Division at ORNL. "No other neutron detectors are suited for viewing these complex proteins at a pulsed neutron source."

The ORNL research team has optimized an existing technology called the Anger Camera — named after its inventor, Hal Oscar Anger — improving the detector's ability to view the atomic structure of protein macromolecules. Previous neutron detectors struggled to resolve crystals smaller than 2 millimeters, but ORNL's system can clearly detect 1-millimeter and smaller crystals. This capability is important not only for biological crystals but also for small crystals that are subject to extremely high pressures.

"It turns out there are a number of proteins and enzymes that don't form very large crystals," Riedel said. "The push in neutron science has been to design devices that can detect smaller and smaller crystals — down to half a millimeter."

PartTec CEO, Herschel Workman, envisions this technology greatly impacting the development of novel drugs for many types of disease.

"We are pleased to receive this opportunity to manufacture and market the Anger Camera, which will help researchers expand current medical boundaries," Workman said. "Their work, in turn, will help those in need find medical answers and options previously unavailable to them."

The system was developed by Riedel, Diawara, Theodore Visscher, Lloyd Clonts, Cornelius Donahue Jr. and Christopher Montcalm of ORNL's Neutron Sciences Directorate.

The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov.

About PartTec, Ltd.

PartTec, founded in 2002, is a thought leader in neutron detection technology - specializing in the design, development, and manufacture of non-Helium-3 neutron detectors for laboratories, as well as Helium-3 replacement technologies for detector manufacturers and their customers.  The current user base of PartTec products includes the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the DOE, the DHS, and other radiation detector manufacturers.  PartTec, in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was selected by R&D Magazine as a winner of the 2012 R&D 100 Award. The company is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana with a manufacturing facility in Linton, Indiana and can be reached at 812.323.0541 and at: www.parttec.com.

Media Contact: Nichole Hoffmann PartTec, Ltd., 812.323.0541, nichole.hoffmann@parttec.com

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