Monash University researchers have described a new technique to chemically analyse cells. The spectroscopic method, which has been detailed in the Journal of Phycology, measures the levels of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and fats in single cells by analysing the vibrations of the molecules under infra-red wavelengths.
Research at the centre has also shown that infrared spectroscopy can diagnose diseases such as cancer at an early stage, before microscopic changes are visible.
In experiments conducted at the City University of New York, the technique was used to identify cervical cells that are classified as CIN (Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia) level 1 – or cells that could become malignant.
Someday, the researchers hope that diseased tissue could be detected in a non-invasive manner using an infra red probe.
The spectroscopic method is claimed to be superior to conventional methods because it is rapid, inexpensive and non-destructive.