Picoanalysis of Drugs in Biofluids with Quantitative Label-Free Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.

Author(s): Turzhitsky V,  Zhang L,  Horowitz GL,  Vitkin E,  Khan U,  Zakharov Y,  Qiu L,  Itzkan I,  Perelman LT

Journal: Small

Date: 2018 Nov

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): PARR

PubMed ID: 30369072

PMC ID: PMC6389872

Abstract: The enormous increase of Raman signal in the vicinity of metal nanoparticles allows surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to be employed for label-free detection of substances at extremely low concentrations. However, the ultimate potential of label-free SERS to identify pharmaceutical compounds at low concentrations, especially in relation to biofluid sensing, is far from being fully realized. Opioids are a particular challenge for rapid clinical identification because their molecular structural similarities prevent their differentiation with immunolabeling approaches. In this paper, a new method called quantitative label-free SERS (QLF-SERS) which involves the formation of halide-conjugated gold nanoclusters trapping the analyte of interest near the SERS hot spots is reported, and it is demonstrated that it yields a 105 fold improvement in the detection limit over previously reported results for the entire class of clinically relevant opioids and their metabolites. Measurements of opioid concentrations in multicomponent mixtures are also demonstrated. QLF-SERS has comparable detection limits as currently existing laboratory urine drug testing techniques but is significantly faster and inexpensive and, therefore, can be easily adapted as part of a rapid clinical laboratory routine.