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SERS detection method behind RenDx technology has healthcare potential

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article image SERS forms the basis of RDL's RenDx multiplex assay system

The surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) detection method behind Renishaw Diagnostics Limited's (RDL) RenDx technology is being considered for potential healthcare applications.

Mentioned in two high profile UK publications, SERS technology is being applied in the diagnosis of two potentially life threatening diseases. 

SERS forms the basis of RDL's RenDx multiplex assay system which, combined with a high throughput polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, provides a highly sensitive multiplexed screening approach for infectious disease research. A vibrational spectroscopy technique, SERS can detect up to nine targets from a single sample, significantly more than traditional fluorescence methods. The platform is therefore ideal for testing applications in which a number of different pathogens may be present, sometimes within the same sample, and could aid clinicians in quick, targeted diagnosis, thereby improving patient care. 

In collaboration with Cardiff University's School of Medicine, Wales, RDL has recently published data on the use of the RenDx platform for identification of different types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Differentiation of high and low risk virus genotypes is critical, as persistent high risk HPV infection can cause cervical cancer. 

Using the SERS technique, researchers were able to differentiate four unique high risk HPV genotypes, in addition to other high and low risk types, providing a significant advantage over existing assays. Without this type-specific information, healthcare providers are at risk of either overburdening patients at minimal risk of cancer, or undertreating high-risk individuals. Access to more comprehensive information will allow more targeted treatment of patients. This approach was the subject of a recent article within Chemistry World, the monthly news magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

An additional paper published by RDL's collaborators at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, provides further evidence of the use of SERS in clinical applications. Based on IP owned by RDL, researchers have developed an assay for the rapid detection of meningitis causing bacteria in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Bacterial meningitis can be life threatening, with immunocompromised and young patients being particularly vulnerable to a wide array of infections, necessitating rapid diagnosis and early treatment. 

Using a combination of lambda exonuclease and SERS, the group was successful in detecting and quantifying three clinically relevant bacterial pathogens, which could eliminate time consuming culture based methods. The subject of a recent BBC News article, the work is a powerful demonstration of the application of SERS to the analysis of clinically relevant targets, and highlights significant advantages over existing approaches. 

Rupert Jones, General Manager at RDL comments that these papers provide an excellent showcase for the use of their technology in clinical applications. RDL’s work with Cardiff University has emphasised the open access nature of the RenDx technology and the ease with which existing PCR methods can be transferred to a SERS platform. Additionally, media interest in the work of their collaborators at the University of Strathclyde underlines the importance of Renishaw’s R&D efforts on meningitis.

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