Raman spectroscopy, statistical analysis pair to improve brain tumor diagnosis

Researchers at Lancaster University (Lancaster, England) have shown that Raman spectroscopy, combined with statistical analysis, can differentiate between normal and diseased brain tissue—including the different tumor types that may arise.

The researchers' work could make it possible to test living tissue during surgery, helping doctors to remove the complete tumor while leaving healthy tissue intact.

The Raman spectroscopy-driven 'fingerprinting' technique was also able to identify whether the tumors arose in the brain or whether they were secondary cancers arising from an unknown primary site. This could help to reveal previously undetected cancer elsewhere in the body, improving patient outcomes.

A new Raman spectroscopy technique can test living brain tissue during surgery, enabling doctors to remove the diseased tissue while leaving healthy tissue untouched
A new Raman spectroscopy technique can test living brain tissue during surgery, enabling doctors to remove the diseased tissue while leaving healthy tissue untouched. (Image courtesy of Lancaster University)

The researchers are now working to develop a sensor that can be used during brain surgery to give surgeons precise information about the tumor and tissue type that they are operating on, explains lead researcher Professor Francis Martin.

What's more, the information obtained by the 'fingerprinting' technique can be combined with conventional techniques like immunohistochemistry to diagnose and grade brain tumors to allow for more accurate planning and execution of surgery and/or radiation therapy. This offers more potential for individualized treatment and better long-term survival.

Their work has been published in Analytical Methods; for more information, please visit http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/ay/c2ay25544h.

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