Raman spectroscopy used to detect radiation damage in cells

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Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Okanagan, Canada have used Raman spectroscopy to detect radiation damage in cells and tissues during cancer treatment. The work may lead to the personalisation of prescriptions based on an individual’s response to radiation, which could increase the effectiveness  and reduce the adverse effects  of radiation.

Currently, the dose of radiation a patient receives for treating cancer is based on population averages, and does not take into account an individual's radio sensitivity.

Associate Professor Andrew Jirasek is a medical physicist who specialises in measuring radiation treatments for cancer patients. His research group is in the process of developing an Raman spectroscopic device for the early detection tool of radiation damage in patients.

Together with his colleagues, Dr Jirasek was the first to apply Raman spectroscopy to look at the unique cellular changes that occur following radiation.

‘This is a very powerful technique. We can record and analyse information about how the molecules and cellular constituents change throughout treatment. Dosage can then be adjusted to be more precise and targeted,’ said Jirasek. ‘Previously, the only outcome of treatment was disease status; for example, tumour size. Our hope is that Raman analysis will provide accurate treatment evaluation sooner. Like many other diseases, timing with cancer treatment is everything. The sooner successful therapy is implemented, the better for the patient.’

The group is about to begin testing the system on prostate cancer patients after conducting successful cell and animal model experiments.

A Renishaw inVia Raman microscope was used for this work. ‘The system delivers excellent Raman sensitivity and throughput. It also offers us high potential for automation,' Jirasek added. 'Because the system is used by multiple groups and types of users, ease of use is important to maximise our up time.’

Further Information

University of British Columbia Medical Physics 

Renishaw inVia Raman microscope