Haptoglobin detection using an integrated surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for intraoperative diagnosis of ovarian cancer


Project Outline

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal disease of the female reproductive tract. Two key factors that could improve survival in ovarian cancer are early diagnosis and appropriate primary surgery. Intraoperative diagnosis is crucial in determining the choice and extent of surgical procedures, and especially so in younger patients wanting to preserve fertility and in patients undergoing laparoscopic surgery for ovarian pathology. The current methods to diagnose ovarian cancer are (i) paraffin section histopathology, the results of which may take up to two weeks and may involve a second operation (ii) frozen section examination of tumour tissue for rapid intraoperative diagnosis of malignancy of an ovarian cyst. Unfortunately, frozen section services are not universally or uniformly available. Surgeons therefore need a quick and reliable test for ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Haptoglobin (Hp), an acute phase reactant protein found within cyst fluid is differentially expressed in benign and malignant ovarian cystic tumours. Other than ELISA, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, time-resolved immune fluorometry, labor-intensive electrophoresis, chromogen staining or chemiluminescent imaging have also been reported for Hp quantification. All these methods are time consuming and labor intensive for clinical applications. This necessitates the development of a simple, robust, and antibody-free analytical method that can help clinicians in detecting and quantifying Hp protein in a short time. Proof of concept studies have shown that the SERS (surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy) based test to detect and quantitate Hp from ovarian cyst fluid is sensitive and accurate in the detection of ovarian cancer.

Project Deliverables

This project aims to further optimise and clinically validate the SERS based assay using ovarian cyst fluid samples and compare the diagnostic performance to gold standard frozen section and paraffin histopathology.


Principal Investigator: A/Prof Mahesh Choolani

Institution: National University Health System

NHIC Ref: NHIC-I2D-1704160