Raman spectroscopy and regenerative medicine : a review

Ember, Katherine J.I. and Hoeve, Marieke A. and McAughtrie, Sarah L. and Bergholt, Mads S. and Dwyer, Benjamin J. and Stevens, Molly M. and Faulds, Karen and Forbes, Stuart J. and Campbell, Colin J. (2017) Raman spectroscopy and regenerative medicine : a review. NPJ Regenerative Medicine, 2. 12. (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41536-017-0014-3)

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The field of regenerative medicine spans a wide area of the biomedical landscape—from single cell culture in laboratories to human whole-organ transplantation. To ensure that research is transferrable from bench to bedside, it is critical that we are able to assess regenerative processes in cells, tissues, organs and patients at a biochemical level. Regeneration relies on a large number of biological factors, which can be perturbed using conventional bioanalytical techniques. A versatile, non-invasive, non-destructive technique for biochemical analysis would be invaluable for the study of regeneration; and Raman spectroscopy is a potential solution. Raman spectroscopy is an analytical method by which chemical data are obtained through the inelastic scattering of light. Since its discovery in the 1920s, physicists and chemists have used Raman scattering to investigate the chemical composition of a vast range of both liquid and solid materials. However, only in the last two decades has this form of spectroscopy been employed in biomedical research. Particularly relevant to regenerative medicine are recent studies illustrating its ability to characterise and discriminate between healthy and disease states in cells, tissue biopsies and in patients. This review will briefly outline the principles behind Raman spectroscopy and its variants, describe key examples of its applications to biomedicine, and consider areas of regenerative medicine that would benefit from this non-invasive bioanalytical tool.