Biomedical IR spectroscopy: Quo Vadis?

Author(s): Günnur Güler

 In the last decades, spectroscopic methods have been intensively used in medical analysis, drug research and even diagnosis. Biomolecular spectroscopy that covers mostly optical/vibrational spectroscopic techniques has been frequently used to image, to detect and to analyze the biological samples. Particularly, Fourier transform infrared (IR) spectroscopy, or briefly IR spectroscopy, provides rapid information about life sciences from biomedical materials including biomolecules, metabolites, sub-cellular structures, cells, tissues and even body fluids.

In the current talk, I will address about our medical analysis and pharmaceutical studies in vitro by using IR spectroscopy combined with multivariate statistical analysis (PCA, HCA, PLS-DA). Our recent applications involve deciphering of cancer biomarkers, discrimination among cancer stem cells, cancer cells and healthy cells, determination of drug-action mechanisms, tracking of therapeutic effects and cellular events (apoptosis etc.). As a result of our studies, we found that the IR technique was capable of detecting fingerprint-like signatures of lipidemic, proteomic, metabolic and genomic alterations in biological samples. IR spectroscopy is a time-saving and non-destructive technique and requires also low setup and running cost. Thus, it can be applied as ‘rejuvenated’ technique for molecular and chemical characterization of cells/tissues/biosamples in the field of molecular medicine, and thus, it should be further developed for label-free screening of biomarkers from human body fluids (blood, urine etc.) in early clinical diagnosis. At this point, future perspectives along the way to translation of research results into clinical practice are also the subject of this talk.

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