Vibrational spectroscopy of biofluids for disease screening or diagnosis: translation from the laboratory to a clinical setting

J Biophotonics. 2014 Apr;7(3-4):153-65. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201400018. Epub 2014 Mar 19.


There remains a need for objective and cost-effective approaches capable of diagnosing early-stage disease in point-of-care clinical settings. Given an increasingly ageing population resulting in a rising prevalence of chronic diseases, the need for screening to facilitate the personalising of therapies to prevent or slow down pathology development will increase. Such a tool needs to be robust but simple enough to be implemented into clinical practice. There is interest in extracting biomarkers from biofluids (e.g., plasma or serum); techniques based on vibrational spectroscopy provide an option. Sample preparation is minimal, techniques involved are relatively low-cost, and data frameworks are available. This review explores the evidence supporting the applicability of vibrational spectroscopy to generate spectral biomarkers of disease in biofluids. We extend the inter-disciplinary nature of this approach to hypothesise a microfluidic platform that could allow such measurements. With an appropriate lightsource, such engineering could revolutionize screening in the 21(st) century.

Keywords: ATR-FTIR spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy; biofluid; biomarkers; microfluidic platform; point-of-care; screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared / methods*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman / methods*
  • Vibration*


  • Biomarkers