Skip to main content

BIOphotonic SPECialists for Novel Raman Spectrometer Development

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOSPEC (BIOphotonic SPECialists for Novel Raman Spectrometer Development)

Reporting period: 2017-09-29 to 2018-09-28

The BIOSPEC project seeks to address opportunities in biomedical sensing, made possible through recent developments in Raman spectroscopy. M Squared Lasers have licensed and developed intellectual property in the area of Wavelength Modulated Raman Spectroscopy (WMRS), a highly sensitive subset of Raman spectroscopy, with a myriad of potential application areas. The BIOSPEC project provided an opportunity to advance our internal capabilities in terms of functional hardware and engineer training to help address these opportunities.
Some examples of these targeted application areas include: discriminating between healthy and cancerous tissues; identifying the presence of inflammation and infection; and measuring drug concentrations in biological fluids for therapeutic drug monitoring applications. These areas represent three key areas in which the proposed technology can generate a tangible societal benefit. The long term pathway to clinical deployment would enable cost reduction in the provision of healthcare through efficient diagnosis and the optimisation of therapeutic delivery. In addition, patient outcomes should benefit from improved capabilities. There are also non-medical applications that can realise economic and societal benefits such as on-line beverage quality control, to detect counterfeit or contaminated produce.
The overall objectives of the BIOSPEC project were to: gain specialist skilled labour in biological analysis and photonics development; develop recently acquired IP in WMRS into a pre-prototype; Demonstrate and test WMRS system on the analysis of biological fluids; advance the TRL of WMRS towards commercialisation and to be attractive for further funding; overcome the barriers to recruiting the best talent by applying EU wide rather than nationally; ensure market needs are catered for by a growing skilled workforce.
The project has delivered several of the main planned results, prior to the premature termination. The principal design and initial hardware development tasks for the WMRS propotype have been completed with significant progress made toward to the primary hardware development goals of the project. The recruited Fellow worked closely with our in house teams and quickly generated the planned initial results on the design, evaluation and delivery of the prototype unit. The final planned tasks were in preparation when the Fellow took up another position, however we will continue with after the project. This will aid the intended exploitation pathways, where our dedicated biophotonics unit, M Squared Life will be engaging with a network of biomedical researchers and clinicians with an interest in joining us on the exploitation pathway.
The progress beyond the state-of-the-art has centred on the design and engineering development required to advance the technology readiness level of the WMRS hardware. Early demonstrations of the technique’s efficacy had been delivered on breadboard-level demonstrators, however, the BIOSPEC aims were to help start the process of engineering a prototype-level system that could be used in more advanced applications. Significant progress has been made in this direction and the benefits of Fellowship have been realised for the Fellow’s own personal development and also for the engineering teams involved who have been able to advance the company’s capabilities in this strategically important area. The wider impacts will be seen in the company’s biophotonics development efforts, with significant investment expected in this area to bring practical devices into clinical environments. Shorter-term exploitation pathways will be possible through efforts in the distillation and food production industries in which the threshold for deployment is somewhat lower and potentially much quicker to realise.
A photograph of the prototype WMRS spectrometer