Raman spectroscopy and surface-enhaced Raman spectroscopy as biomedical tools: Fundamentals and applications
In recent years the use of Raman spectroscopy and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for biomedical applications has been growing considerably. Intrinsically, the Raman effect is label-free and, as such, it does not introduce unwanted guests in the system under analysis. In a label-free Raman SERS approach, analytes (drugs, biomarkers, etc.) are put in contact with nanostructured metallic surfaces, (typically Au or Ag nanoparticles with suitable optical properties) generating a complex spectrum very rich in information. This fact, coupled with the rapidity of measurements and the ease of sample preparation, have paved the way for a wide spread use of these techniques in materials science, life sciences, and in medicine. In this talk an introduction to the Raman and SERS effect will be presented; then the schematic of the equipment will be outlined and then some practical case histories will be discussed: (a) Localization of hemozoin inside single red blood cells infected with malaria (Plasmodium falciparum), (b) Aging of zirconium oxide leading to catastrophic failure of ceramic hip joint prostheses, (c) Raman Mapping of the cartilage tissues and calcified cardiac valves, (d) Nanotechnologies and Raman SERS applied to quantification of low-concentration chemotherapics, and (e) Nanotechnologies, Raman SERS, and statistical analysis for screening of prostate and breast cancer.