Advancements in SERS Shows Potential in Noninvasive Disease Detection

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A recent study looks at how surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can be used as a tool for noninvasive detection.

Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has emerged as a promising tool for noninvasive disease detection, according to a study published in Applied Spectroscopy Reviews (1).

SERS is an extremely sensitive technique that boosts the Raman scattering of molecules using nanostructured materials (2). It enables detailed structural analysis of low-concentration substances through enhanced electrical fields or chemical amplification (2). Because of its high sensitivity and selectivity, SERS has numerous applications across surface chemistry, catalysis, nanotechnology, biology, biomedicine, food science, and environmental analysis (2).

The world of healthcare as machine learning algorithms revolutionize patient care, enabling personalized treatment plans, early disease detection. Generated with AI. | Image Credit: © visoot - stock.adobe.com

The world of healthcare as machine learning algorithms revolutionize patient care, enabling personalized treatment plans, early disease detection. Generated with AI. | Image Credit: © visoot - stock.adobe.com

SERS stands out as a promising candidate for noninvasive disease detection because of its unique ability to interact with nanostructured materials like gold and silver, generating a strong surface plasmon resonance effect (1). This effect significantly enhances the Raman signal of molecules adsorbed on the nanostructured surface, allowing for the detection of rich molecular fingerprints with super sensitivity (1).

Researchers from the University of Science and Technology Beijing and the Chinese PLA General Hospital recently highlighted significant advancements in the field of noninvasive disease detection using SERS. The study, led by Wenwen Li, Qianli Yang, and Mengtao Sun, emphasized the critical need for sensitive and accurate analysis of disease markers for early diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis evaluation, particularly in the context of the diverse and serious diseases affecting the health of Chinese residents (1).

One of the key advantages of SERS technology is its noninvasive nature, making it an ideal tool for clinical testing. Unlike traditional methods that may require invasive procedures or extensive sample preparation, SERS can analyze biological samples such as serum, urine, saliva, and tissues quickly and with high sensitivity (1). This capability is particularly important for early disease detection, where timely and accurate diagnosis can significantly improve patient outcomes (1).

Despite its many advantages, SERS technology also faces several challenges that need to be addressed to realize its full potential in biological detection. One of the main issues is the reproducibility of SERS signals, which can be affected by factors such as the uniformity of the nanostructured materials and the stability of the Raman signal (1). The review discussed ongoing efforts to improve the consistency and reliability of SERS measurements, including advancements in nanofabrication techniques and the development of standardized protocols (1).

Another challenge is the complexity of biological samples, which can contain a wide range of molecules that may interfere with the SERS signal (1). In their study, the researchers highlighted that developing selective SERS substrates that can target specific disease markers while minimizing interference from other molecules will be important in this regard (1). This selectivity is essential for ensuring accurate and reliable detection of disease biomarkers in complex biological environments.

Reflecting on the current and ongoing advancements in SERS technology, the research team believes that these technological changes will result in SERS being integrated into routine clinical testing, providing a powerful tool for early diagnosis and personalized medicine (1). The potential for SERS to revolutionize disease detection lies in its ability to offer rapid, noninvasive, and highly sensitive analysis, which could significantly enhance the effectiveness of medical diagnostics and treatment strategies (1).

As researchers continue to address the challenges and refine the technology, SERS holds great potential to become a vital tool in the fight against various diseases, improving the health and well-being of populations worldwide.

References

(1) Zhao, H.; Li, W.; Li, J.; et al. Advances of SERS Applications in Clinic Samples Analysis. Appl. Spectrosc. Rev. 2024, 59 (2), DOI: 10.1080/05704928.2023.2168688

(2) Han, X. X.; Rodriguez, R. S.; Haynes, C. L.; et al. Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. Nat. Rev. Methods Primers 2021, 1, 87. DOI: 10.1038/s43586-021-00083-6

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