Clinical Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy for Medical Diagnosis – An EPSRC Network
A major part of the diagnosis of any disease but particularly various forms of cancer, is obtained through a biopsy. This involves removing a small sample of tissue, or a few cells, from the patient. These samples, either tissue or cells are then examined by a pathologist looking down an optical microscope. In most cases the sample is stained with a combination of dyes to help gain some contrast. In most cases, based upon visual inspection of the sample a diagnosis is made. This process is far from ideal since it relies upon the expertise of the clinician concerned and, as such, is subject to both intra- and inter-observer error.
Recently a number of proof-of-concept studies have shown that molecular spectroscopic techniques such as infrared and Raman are capable of distinguishing diseased from non-diseased cells and tissue based upon the inherent chemistry contained within the cells. The UK is at the forefront of these developments but there are many hurdles that need to be overcome if this technology is to move from the proof of concept stage through the translational stage and into the clinical setting.
It is the belief of the academic community that we are much more likely to overcome these hurdles if we pool our resources, bring in both industrial and clinical partners and work on these generic problems together. This project, underpinned by EPSRC funding, is to support such a network of partners for the next three years (2014 – 2017).