Raman spectroscopy guides cancer therapy

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  • Published: Aug 31, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / MRI Spectroscopy / Base Peak / X-ray Spectrometry / Raman / NMR Knowledge Base / Atomic / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy

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In my previous post, I described how an MRI scanner can be used to guide cells injected with a killer virus to tumour cells to initiate cancer therapy. Now, another spectroscopic option has been described in which Raman spectroscopy has been used to pinpoint when cancer drugs have entered tumour cells to provide the most effective time to begin photothermal therapy.

In practice, the type of spectroscopy was surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and the technique has been explained in Chemistry - A European Journal. The vehicles for doxorubicin, the cancer drug, were gold nanorods wrapped in graphene oxide. The two-step approach was illustrated on cultures of HeLa cells.

When the drug-loaded nanoparticles were added to HeLa cells, irradiation with the SERS laser was used to follow their progress. On entering the cells, the acidic environment induced the doxorubicin molecules to detach from their carriers and the SERS signal was reduced. This was the signal to switch on a more powerful laser for photothermal therapy.

The timing of PTT is important. Too soon and the bioavailability of doxorubicin is reduced. Conversely, too late and the therapeutic value of the drug is reduced due to the build up of drug resistance in the cells. In this case, a window of six hours is ideal, allowing the drug to be released from the nanoparticles without drug depletion.

The technique was illustrated on tumours in mice for which the doxorubicin SERS signal disappeared one hour after injection. PTT was initiated at this point for three minutes every three days. Good degrees of cell death and tissue necrosis were observed after five cycles of treatment.

The two-step method looks a promising approach for the real-time identification of the best time to initiate PTT.


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