Raman spectroscopy is a highly sensitive optical technology which enables the non-destructive measurements of internal biochemical constituents of an object. When objects are illuminated with a laser, the light reflected from the sample forms a characteristic spectrum or ‘fingerprint’ of the material.
In the clinic, skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema are commonly examined via visual inspection, typically at higher magnification via dermoscopy. This technique is simple, non-invasive and real-time, but is subjective to the dermatologist’s judgment. On the other hand, skin biopsy is more accurate and currently serves as the gold standard, but is invasive and time-consuming in nature.
In this context, a handheld CRS system which can provide non-invasive, real-time and accurate skin diagnosis has been specifically developed to fulfil this clinical need. Due to the increasing convergence of clinical dermatology and dermocosmetics, this technology can be used for consumer skin health assessment too. In addition, the convergence of food and skin health (nutricosmetics) with food ingredients being used in cosmetic products also allows this technology to be used for product characterization at any point along the entire supply chain.
The CRS system consists of a handheld optical probe, a Raman spectroscopy system with a light source, a spectrometer, a skin Raman spectral library, spectral unmixing and machine learning algorithms. The system provides almost real-time results, with a measurement acquisition time of approximately 10s. Measures acquired by the system include the water, ceramide and urocanic acid content of the patient’s skin. Thereafter, a novel Eczema Biochemical Index developed by the team, is then used to stage disease severity of patients.
Preliminary validation of this system with a commercial system has been conducted, showing similar sensitivity. With its portability, this handheld system can be used as a point-of-care system for both clinical dermatological and cosmeceutical applications.
In comparison to existing techniques, our technology offers the following advantages: