SE Bohndiek, A Wagadarikar, CL Zavaleta, D Van de Sompel, E Garai, JV Jokerst, S Yazdanfar, SS Gambhir
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Raman spectroscopy, amplified by surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) nanoparticles, is a molecular imaging modality with ultra-high sensitivity and the unique ability to multiplex readouts from different molecular targets using a single wavelength of excitation. This approach holds exciting prospects for a range of applications in medicine, including identification and characterization of malignancy during endoscopy and intraoperative image guidance of surgical resection. The development of Raman molecular imaging with SERS nanoparticles is presently limited by long acquisition times, poor spatial resolution, small field of view, and difficulty in animal handling with existing Raman spectroscopy instruments. Our goal is to overcome these limitations by designing a bespoke instrument for Raman molecular imaging in small animals. Here, we present a unique and dedicated small-animal Raman imaging instrument that enables rapid, high-spatial resolution, spectroscopic imaging over a wide field of view (> 6 cm(2)), with simplified animal handling. Imaging of SERS nanoparticles in small animals demonstrated that this small animal Raman imaging system can detect multiplexed SERS signals in both superficial and deep tissue locations at least an order of magnitude faster than existing systems without compromising sensitivity.