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Combined surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy biotags and microfluidic platform for quantitative ratiometric discrimination between noncancerous and cancerous cells in flow

J. Nanophoton. 7(1), 073092 (May 09, 2013). doi: 10.1117/1.JNP.7.073092
History: Received October 17, 2012; Revised April 8, 2013; Accepted April 10, 2013

Abstract.  Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) biotags (SBTs) that carry peptides as cell recognition moieties were made from polymer-encapsulated silver nanoparticle dimers, infused with unique Raman reporter molecules. We previously demonstrated their potential use for identification of malignant cells, a central goal in cancer research, through a multiplexed, ratiometric method that can confidently distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous epithelial prostate cells in vitro based on receptor overexpression. Progress has been made toward the application of this quantitative methodology for the identification of cancer cells in a microfluidic flow-focusing device. Beads are used as cell mimics to evaluate the devices. Cells (and beads) are simultaneously incubated with two sets of SBTs while in suspension, then injected into the device for laser interrogation under flow. Each cell event is characterized by a composite Raman spectrum, deconvoluted into its single components to ultimately determine their relative contribution. We have found that using SBTs ratiometrically can provide cell identification in flow, insensitive to normal causes of uncertainty in optical measurements such as variations in focal plane, cell concentration, autofluorescence, and turbidity.

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