Point-of-care detection strategies aligned to human health using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Sian Sloan-Dennison, Hayleigh Kearns, Waleed Hassanain, Karen Faulds, Duncan Graham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Point-of-care (POC) diagnostics are tests which can be performed at or near the site of a patient to produce results in a timely manner, improving on conventional tests which are mostly confined to a central laboratory. They are used in many different applications including diagnosing highly infectious diseases [1], providing routine daily monitoring of diseases such as diabetes [2], to assess the impact of treatments which includes oral anticoagulants [3] and for at home-testing to determine pregnancy [4].There are many different types of POC devices and platforms. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, paper-based lateral flows have become one of the most well known [5]. Microfluidic devices are also routinely used to provide on-the-spot answers [6]. The test also does not necessarily have to use a device and could be as simple as mixing of reagents and samples to produce a solution-based platform. It is usually designed to detect the presence of a biomarker using different chemistries such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunoassays or enzymatic tests. Labeling molecules are also used which can then be detected visually or with a read-out instrument, to give either a simple yes/no answer or provide a quantitative result.

To be seen as a viable POC diagnostic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a list of objectives to which the test should adhere. By following the WHO ASSURED criteria, the test must be ‘Affordable, Sensitive, Specific, User-friendly, Rapid and Robust, Equipment-free and Deliverable’ [7]. The hardest criteria to achieve is ‘equipment-free’ as many POC tests depend on a read-out instrument to quantify the concentration of analyte present. Although the read-out instrument is usually unavoidable, when selecting it, it should be portable, provide decision support, connect to other information systems and have a simple interface between the POC test and the instrument to retain a straightforward, easy-to-use POC diagnostic test [8]. A variety of read-out instruments are used to detect the labeling entity including fluorescence readers [9], ultraviolet-visible spectrometers [10] and potentiostats [11]. If nanoparticles are used to label, Raman spectrometers can be used as the read-out instrument to provide sensitive detection of biomarkers by assessing the surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) signal from the device [12]. This chapter will review how SERS has been combined with POC diagnostic tests, the efforts being made to change the opinion of SERS being a lab-based technique and how it can become one of the gold standard methods used in POC testing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRaman Spectroscopy in Human Health and Biomedicine
EditorsHidetoshi Sato , Jürgen Popp , Bayden R Wood, Yukihiro Ozaki
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • point-of-care diagnostics
  • surface-enhanced Raman scattering


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