Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Physical chemistry, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Biophysics

Publication Details

Journal of Biophotonics, vol. 11, no. 3, e201700258.


This overview groups some of the recent studies highlighting the potential application of Raman micro-spectroscopy as an analytical technique in preclinical development to predict drug mechanism of action and in clinical application as a companion diagnostic and in personalised therapy due to its capacity to predict cellular resistance and therefore to optimise chemotherapeutic treatment efficacy.

Notably, the anthracyclines, Doxorubicin and Actinomycin D, elicit similar spectroscopic signatures of subcellular interaction characteristic of the mode of action of intercalation. Although Cisplatin and Vincristine show markedly different signatures, at low exposure doses, their signatures at higher doses show marked similarities to those elicited by the intercalating anthracyclines, confirming that anticancer agents can have different modes of action with different spectroscopic signatures, depending on the dose.

The study demonstrates that Raman micro-spectroscopy can elucidate subcellular transport and accumulation pathways of chemotherapeutic agents, characterise and fingerprint their mode of action, and potentially identify cell resistant strains. The consistency of the spectroscopic signatures for drugs of similar modes of action, in different cell lines, suggests that this fingerprint can be considered a “spectralome” of the drug-cell interaction suggesting a new paradigm of representing spectroscopic responses.