Project Image:
Title of the project:
Determination of tumor growth without labelling
Label-free molecular detection of tumor progression using colon carcinoma as an example
Project leader:
Dr. Martin Kriebel
Project funding:
  • Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi)
Project management:
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen "Otto von Guericke" e.V. (AiF)
Funding reference number:
16697 N

The prognosis for colon carcinomas is relatively good if the cancer is detected at an early stage. A new optical method based on Raman spectroscopy in combination with confocal microscopy will enable more efficient early detection. The new method will be evaluated and validated using in vitro models of colon carcinoma at various stages of development. Suitable molecular species will be identified as biomarkers that can be used to distinguish healthy from pathologically altered intestinal epithelial cells. During its development, the new method will be compared with established cellular and biochemical test methods and measured against them.


Colon carcinoma (colon cancer) is a disease of high medical, epidemiological and economic relevance, the early detection of which can lead to a significantly better prognosis. Conventional colonoscopy, although very common, is not sufficiently efficient in the detection of small and flat adenomas as they occur in the early stages of the disease.
Raman spectroscopy is based on the detection of the Raman signal, which is due to inelastic scattering of photons by molecules. The spectra obtained in this way provide comprehensive information about the chemical composition of the sample. In combination with confocal microscopy, an optical method is available which combines the non-invasive and label-free properties of Raman spectroscopy with high-resolution imaging functions. Raman microscopy thus has the potential to identify specific molecules associated with the pathogenesis of colon carcinoma early in the course of pathogenesis due to their vibrational spectrum.
The aim of the project is to develop a new optical method for the detection of pathological changes at the cellular and molecular level using spectrally resolving Raman microscopy. To evaluate and validate the new method, various cellular in vitro models of colon carcinoma are used, which correspond to differently advanced stages of the disease. Molecule species will be detected and identified that can serve as diagnostic intrinsic biomarkers to distinguish healthy from pathologically altered intestinal epithelial cells. In the model system we use for tumor progression of colon carcinoma, we will investigate at which stage of tumor progression these biomarkers can be detected. In addition, comparative in vivo studies will be performed on intestinal epithelial cells and tissues in an animal model of the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of chicken eggs.
With the help of molecular biological and cell biological characterizations of the in vitro and in vivo model systems used, carried out parallel to the Raman analyses, the possibility of a comparison with regard to the sensitivity and specificity of the detection by means of spectrally resolving Raman microscopy shall be given.
The joint research initiative of the NMI and the ILM (Institut für Lasertechnologien in der Medizin und Messtechnik - Institute for Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology) provides far-reaching synergy effects in the fields of optical technologies, molecular medicine and biomolecular screening due to the complementary structure of the two institutes, which will ensure the successful implementation of the planned project.

Project partners:
  • ILM Institut für Lasertechnologien in der Medizin und Meßtechnik
  • Projektbegleitender Ausschuss: Carl Zeiss AG, Ingeneric GmbH, Klastech GmbH, Labor Dr. Merk und Kollegen GmbH, Richard Wolf GmbH, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, WITec GmbH