The development of surface-enhanced Raman scattering as a detection modality for portable in vitro diagnostics: progress and challenges
This perspective provides an overview of the diverse surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based sensor platforms that have been developed for in vitro diagnostic applications. To provide focus, protein and nucleic acid detection assays based on the principle of extrinsic SERS sensing are emphasized, as well as their potential for translation to fully integrated point-of-care (POC) test platforms. The development of intrinsic SERS sensors, which are predicated on the direct detection of analytes by laser excitation, entails unique opportunities and challenges deserving of their own attention. As the robust sensing of disease pathogens and cancers in both clinical facilities and limited resource settings is the targeted objective of many next-generation biosensors, the majority of the research progress summarized here centers on SERS sensors developed for the rapid, sensitive and selective detection of disease-causing pathogens and biomarkers. In our effort to communicate a realistic assessment of the progress that has been made and the challenges that lie ahead, we avoid an overtly optimistic appraisal of the current status of SERS diagnostics that does not tacitly acknowledge the difficulties inherent in aligning SERS-based technologies alongside ELISA and PCR technologies as a complementary method for bioanalyte detection possessing unique advantages.