Is infrared spectroscopy ready for the clinic?

Finlayson, Duncan and Rinaldi, Christopher and Baker, Matthew J. (2019) Is infrared spectroscopy ready for the clinic? Analytical Chemistry, 91 (19). pp. 12117-12128. ISSN 0003-2700 (

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Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) represents an attractive molecular diagnostic modality for translation to the clinic, where comprehensive chemical profiling of biological samples may revolutionize a myriad of pathways in clinical settings. Principally, FT-IR provides a rapid, cost-effective platform to obtain a molecular fingerprint of clinical samples based on vibrational transitions of chemical bonds upon interaction with infrared light. To date, considerable research activities have demonstrated competitive to superior performance of FT-IR strategies in comparison to conventional techniques, with particular promise for earlier, accessible disease diagnostics, thereby improving patient outcomes. However, amidst the changing healthcare landscape in times of aging populations and increased prevalence of cancer and chronic disease, routine adoption of FT-IR within clinical laboratories has remained elusive. Hence, this perspective shall outline the significant clinical potential of FT-IR diagnostics and subsequently address current barriers to translation from the perspective of all stakeholders, in the context of biofluid, histopathology, cytology, microbiology, and biomarker discovery frameworks. Thereafter, future perspectives of FT-IR for healthcare will be discussed, with consideration of recent technological advances that may facilitate future clinical translation.