Label-free SERS in biological and biomedical applications: recent progress, current challenges and opportunities

in: Spectrochimica Acta Part A-Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy (2018)
Zheng, Xiao-Shan; Jahn, Izabella-Jolan; Weber, Karina; Cialla-May, Dana; Popp, Jürgen
To achieve an insightful look within biomolecular processes on the cellular level, the development of diseases as well as the reliable detection of metabolites and pathogens, a modern analytical tool is needed that is highly sensitive, molecular-specific and exhibits fast detection. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is known to meet these requirements and, within this review article, the recent progress of label-free SERS in biological and biomedical applications is summarized and discussed. This includes the detection of biomolecules such as metabolites, nucleic acids and proteins. Further, the characterization and identification of microorganisms has been achieved by label-free SERS-based approaches. Eukaryotic cells can be characterized by SERS in order to gain information about the outer cell wall or to detect intracellular molecules and metabolites. The potential of SERS for medically relevant detection schemes is emphasized by the label-free detection of tissue, the investigation of body fluids as well as applications for therapeutic and illicit drug monitoring. The review article is concluded with an evaluation of the recent progress and current challenges in order to highlight the direction of label-free SERS in the future.

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