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Exploring the Challenges of Advancing Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy-Based Biosensing From Research Laboratory to Clinics


Healthcare has seen a big boon in technological advancement with the last few years with next-generation genome sequencing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and bioinformatics. While the origins of these breakthroughs are deeply rooted in biology, life sciences, and medical science, the new age of technological breakthrough require an interdisciplinary approach. Materials science itself is an interdisciplinary field, with a huge contribution of physics and chemistry, and within the past few decades, advances in nanotechnology has allowed integration into healthcare giving materials science a new emerging role. Such is the case with a vibrational spectroscopy technique called Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS).

SERS has the ability to measure the molecular bonds of the target analyte at the single molecular level. Yet, SERS is not a recognized spectrometry tool in healthcare. This dissertation examines the fundamental challenges that require a technique like SERS to transition from the academic research laboratories to clinical applications. While there are broad potential clinical applications, this dissertation focuses on the SERS measurement of diseases originating from cellular morphologies. The two main focal topics are cancer and microbiology research, where the proteome identification can provide new diagnostic and therapeutic treatment options.

The first major section is about testing the capabilities of our group’s unique graphene gold nanopyramid hybrid platform in controlled research laboratory environments. Varies cases of cancers are examined: lung, skin, and breast, through their various size, morphology, and proteomic differences. Afterwards, the field of microbiology is explored with bacteria and fungus species.

The second major section involves the SERS’s platform performance with clinical patient data. The first case study looks at the diagnosing meningitis from patients in China. The second case study looks at multidrug resistance detection of tuberculosis in rural Pakistan.

The last major section tries to consolidate the major lessons in this journey of bringing SERS to clinical applications. In particular, this section tackles the main question of why a technique like SERS has not been fully recognized in clinics yet and brings the case to why our SERS hybrid platform is very close to it.

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