SPEC 2018: International Society of Clinical Spectroscopy

Matthew J. Baker ab
aWestCHEM, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, Technology and Innovation Centre, 99 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1RD, UK
bClinSpec Dx, Technology and Innovation Centre, 99 George St, Glasgow, G1 1RD, UK

This latest Optical Diagnosis themed issue of Analyst, guest-edited by Dr. Matthew J. Baker, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, is drawn from the participants and proceedings of the International Conference SPEC 2018 which was held on the 10th–15th June in Glasgow, Scotland. The conference was chaired by Dr Matthew J. Baker.

This event was the 10th in the series of biennial conferences (2000 Winnipeg, Canada; 2002 Reims, France; 2004 New York, USA; 2006 Heidelberg, Germany; 2008 São José dos Campos, Brazil; 2010 Manchester, England; 2012 Chiang Mai, Thailand; 2014 Krakow, Poland & 2016 Montreal, Canada).

SPEC 2018 brought together clinicians and scientists, both industrial and academic, who are developing novel clinical spectroscopic instrumentation and techniques to improve world health and patient outcomes. Recent advances in the biological sciences have led to an increasing demand for rapid, objective, real time and minimally invasive chemical techniques to deliver information suitable for the clinic. Vibrational spectroscopy has a unique capability to provide this information and can play a significant role in histopathology, cytology, surgery, treatment monitoring and therapeutic development.

This being the 10th conference in the successful SPEC series provided an opportunity for reflection on the developments within the field since the 1st conference in 2000 in Winnipeg. The conference aim was to highlight the recent cutting-edge developments within the field with a focus on translation of this technique and discoveries during the first part of the conference and then a focus on future technologies in the latter part of the conference.

One notable development within this conference series is a rise of focused translation backed up by entrepreneurship. This can be evidenced by the keynotes from Dr Phil Heraud, Monash University Australia, and Prof Anita Mahadevan-Jansen who spoke about direct entrepreneurship approaches and developing and translating instrumentation into the clinic. In addition, the conference was sponsored by young companies such as ClinSpec Dx and had other young companies in the form of Biotech Resources and Beamline Diagnostics in attendance as well as representatives from lawyers Morton Fraser and patent lawyers Marks & Clerk. This innovative and collaborative environment between scientists, clinicians, industry, lawyers and other business services is what is needed in order to ensure effective technology transfer and as such it was timely that our hot topic discussion panel focused on this area. This conference and conference series would not have been successful without the long term support of our established industry sponsors who have understood and noticed the opportunity in this area for years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the conference Platinum Partner (PerkinElmer), Silver Partners (Agilent, Art Photonics, DRS Daylight Solutions, Horiba Scientific Renishaw, Specac & Witec) and Bronze Partners (Andor & Cireca).

As well as translation, a major theme of the conference was to highlight and support our early career scientists and as such this conference established an early career keynote delivered by Dr Alison Hobro, Osaka University, a student organised event in the social calendar and carried on the flash presentations established in 2014. The lively flash presentation session is a highlight of the conference which saw science communicated in ever more interesting ways via poems, raps and even a bit of flossing! Highlighting and supporting early career members is crucially important for the future of this field for our growth and for us in the field to realise the full impact that vibrational spectroscopy can have on human life.

These major themes of the conference (translation and highlighting early career scientists) were chosen as they are 2 of the core values of the International Society for Clinical Spectroscopy (CLIRSPEC). CLIRSPEC (http://www.clirspec.org) acts as a platform for individuals, teams and organisations wishing to promote the translation of spectroscopy into the clinical environment, for the general benefit of patients and I encourage all of those interested in the field to support and help develop this society. These themes I am sure will continue to be at the forefront of future conferences.

The EPSRC funded CLIRSPEC Network have recently published an article on the Clinical Applications of Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy: State of Play and Future Challenges that cements in the literature the discussions that have been occurring at this conference and many before in main sessions and at social events. This review highlights challenges and progress towards translation focusing on specific applications, requirements for the clinic, data analysis strategies and data sharing protocols (DOI: 10.1039/C7AN01871A). This is a discussion that is needed within the community and the literature in order to enable us to develop the required standards and validated approaches needed for translation and it is hoped for these discussions to continue until we can decide upon the approach(es) that will enable full clinical translation.

The scope of the conference and this themed issue represents the recent developments in the understanding of the interaction of light with biological materials and progress towards translation of these techniques to the end user.

Developments in the field of understanding data analysis and processing see developments in the use of Raman spectroscopy for high molecular weight proteins in solution (Parachalil et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01701H), optimizing decision tree structures for spectral histopathology (Mu et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01303A) and the development of optimised pre-processing protocols for biofluid ATR-FTIR (Butler et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01384E). For developments in methodology and applications for spectrocytology and cellular analysis we observe Gautam et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01135D) presenting developments in non-invasive analysis of stored red blood cells using resonance Raman spectroscopy and Vardaki et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01509K) analysing red blood cell concentrate stored within sealed transfusion blood bags.

Substantial developments and applications within the pharmaceutical sphere are clear with reports focusing on the changes in ovarian cancer cells after incubation with novel organoamidoplatinum complexes (Al-Jorani et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01558A), the efficacy and cellular uptake of sorafenib by colon cancer cells (Yosef et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN02029A) and the use of tapping AFM-IR to unravel the structure and component localisation of drug loaded nanoparticles (Mathurin et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01239C).

The use of vibrational spectroscopy and/or new light sources and techniques are reported by Smith et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01183D) discussing the use of a quantum cascade laser aperture scanning near-field optical microscope to study a cancer cell, near-field infrared nanospectroscopy and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy of lymphocyte nuclei (Ajaezi et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01341A), the development of a dual wavelength system for combined fingerprint and high wavenumber Raman spectroscopy (Masson et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01989D), a tandem approach of fluorescence and Raman for characterisation of a novel photosensitiser in colorectal cancer cell lines (Gala de Pablo et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01461B) and the use of Raman to understand the spectroscopic features of primary cardiac cells (Tott et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01308J).

The results on novel instrumentation are further cemented with reviews in two novel areas of MIR fibre-optics for disease analysis (Seddon et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01396A) and the use of Mid-IR QCLs for biomedical analysis (Isensee et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01306C).

In the field of enhanced spectroscopies we see reports on SERRS for probing through plastic and tissue barriers (Nicolson et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01249K), developments of novel dual purpose fibres for SERS pH sensing and bacterial analysis (Fleming et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01322E) and the detection of different serum albumin binding sites in the protein corona of gold nanoparticles (Szekeres et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01321G).

When considering direct applications for disease studies we have a plethora of developments including monitoring pericellular matrix formation and maturation (Owida et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01272E) and mirco-Brillouin and NIR analysis of Alzheimer's disease (Palombo et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01291A; Paraskevaidi et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01205A).

In the cancer field, developments are reported on the use of vibrational spectroscopy to characterise inflammatory breast cancer (Mohamed et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01292J), pancreatic cancer analysis via1HNMR of human plasma (Michálková et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01310A) and the use of a novel high-throughput serum Raman spectroscopy platform and methodology for colorectal cancer diagnostics (Jenkins et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01323C). Further developments in disease analysis see foci upon Raman spectroscopy for oral clinical applications (de Carvalho et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01363B), continuous monitoring of glucose (Isensee et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01382A) and the fast characterisation of perivascular adipose tissue chemical composition (Czamara et al., DOI: 10.1039/C8AN01307A).

The open discussions and critical friendly atmosphere of the field contribute greatly to our development and, as such, this issue serves as a snapshot of the developments in the field. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing the next stage at SPEC2020 to be held in California.

This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2018