Northeastern University

Surface-enhanced spatially offset resonance raman spectroscopy for cancer detection

Nicole Riepl with Dr. Atul Shinagare (DFCI)

Accurate and precise imaging methodologies are incredibly important in the detection of cancer. These methodologies help determine different diagnoses, prognoses, and stratification of patients into treatment groups. One type of cancer imaging methodology involving Raman spectroscopy is the use of Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Scattering (SERRS) nanostars. These nanostars consist of a gold star-shaped core, which is functionalized with a Raman reporter molecule and encapsulated in a thin silica shell. Upon irradiation near-infrared laser, the nanostars release a Raman “fingerprint”, a photonic signature that is specific to the Raman reporter molecules. This photonic signature allows for high precision imaging of different malignant lesions, premalignant lesions and residual tumor cells following surgical resection of the bulk. Despite the high precision and certainty of SERRS nanostars, traditional Raman imaging is typically limited to only surface measurements, i.e. it cannot measure tumors non-invasively through large depths of tissue. This study focuses on the combination of SERRS with Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS). SORS utilizes the theory of photon migration to collect photonic signatures through larger thicknesses of tissue compared to what can be achieved using traditional Raman methods. The imaging for SERRS nanoparticles using SORS is referred to as surface enhanced spatially offset resonance Raman spectroscopy (SESORRS). The goals of this study are to develop targeted SERRS nanoparticles for the detection of specific cancers, to image the accumulation of these SERRS nanoparticles and thus detect cancer non-invasively using SESORRS, to carry our longitudinal monitoring of cancer growth using SESORRS, and lastly, to compare SESORRS images with magnetic resonance imaging, bioluminescence imaging, and histopathology. Atul Shinagare