Label-free raman micro-spectroscopic optical characterisation of cells of the immune system

University of St Andrews

Active award

Student: Roopam Gupta

Year Award Started: 2016

Identifying and the quantifying the various types of cells of the immune system in the bloodstream is an important process in both the clinical and laboratory environment. Alterations in both number and type can indicate not only infection and inflammation, but the presence of abnormal cells associated with blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

Currently, attaching fluorescently-tagged antibodies to the cells for analysis on a flow cytometer, or simple manual microscopic analysis of a blood smear on a glass slide are routinely used techniques. Both suffer from either being time consuming or requiring expensive antibody reagents.

We aim to develop a novel and completely label-free method to characterize cells of the immune system, which may lead to a rapid, inexpensive, reagent-free laser-light based system for use in the clinic and laboratory from very small blood or cell culture samples.
In preliminary work, we have used laser-light to generate molecular ‘fingerprints’ of several of the key cells of the human immune system. We propose to build on this work to generate a full map of immune cells, and work towards a compact benchtop and portable system for routine use in the clinic and laboratory that will revolutionise blood sample analysis.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology


Dr Simon Powis
School of Medicine
Professor Kishan Dholakia
School of Physics and Astronomy

M Squared Lasers Ltd