Raman imaging at biological interfaces: applications in breast cancer diagnosis



Background: One of the most important areas of Raman medical diagnostics is identification and characterization of cancerous and noncancerous tissues. The methods based on Raman scattering has shown significant potential for probing human breast tissue to provide valuable information for early diagnosis of breast cancer. A vibrational fingerprint from the biological tissue provides information which can be used to identify, characterize and discriminate structures in breast tissue, both in the normal and cancerous environment.

Results: The paper reviews recent progress in understanding structure and interactions at biological interfaces of the human tissue by using confocal Raman imaging and IR spectroscopy. The important differences between the noncancerous and cancerous human breast tissues were found in regions characteristic for vibrations of carotenoids, fatty acids, proteins, and interfacial water. Particular attention was paid to the role played by unsaturated fatty acids and their derivatives as well as carotenoids and interfacial water.

Conclusions: We demonstrate that Raman imaging has reached a clinically relevant level in regard to breast cancer diagnosis applications. The results presented in the paper may have serious implications on understanding mechanisms of interactions in living cells under realistically crowded conditions of biological tissue.

Keywords: Breast cancer biochemical imaging, Interfacial water, Raman imaging, IR spectroscopy

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