Mid-IR Microscopy for Biopharma

A Novel Class of Label-free Tissue Analysis

Mid infrared (IR) microscopy is a well-established technique in spectroscopy and life sciences; however, until recently sample throughput and interpreting the large amount of data generated have been prohibitive in translating this technology into routine use. New technological advancements in mid-IR microscopy help solve this problem by allowing high resolution whole slide images to be generated from unstained tissue sections in minutes. This technique does not require tissue stains, antibodies, or probes, allowing rapid data generation from formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) or frozen tissue, ultimately changing the fundamental workflow of tissue analysis. Reveal Biosciences is now collaborating with DRS Daylight Solutions to generate highplex data from tissue samples using the Spero-QT IR microscopy platform for the benefit of research clients.

What is Mid-IR microscopy?

Mid-IR microscopy is based on the principles of spectroscopy whereby specific mid-IR wavelengths are differentially absorbed by chemical bonds within key cellular components including proteins, lipids, collagen, DNA etc. These cellular components are imaged over 400 individual wavelengths across a whole tissue section. In this way, mid-IR microscopy allows the generation of a detailed “molecular signature” for healthy and diseased tissue that can be analysed using AI. Recent publications have demonstrated applications in a wide variety of diseases including colorectal cancer, liver disease, and diabetes (1-3). Other applications include identifying and grading cancers in heterogeneous tissue, enabling high contrast imaging of fibrosis in liver disease, and mapping protein secondary structure markers associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.Once characterized and validated, spectral features at a reduced number of frequencies can be collected, reducing the acquisition time and data size for analysis at scale.

IR Joins the Big Data Revolution in Biology

Biology is facing a big data revolution. Recent advances in computer power and machine learning have enabled data processing that is several orders of magnitude faster than was possible only a few years ago. For example, a modern workstation leveraging the latest GPU hardware can calculate in one minute what would theoretically take 2 weeks on a similar best in class workstation of 2010. This sea change in compute power has huge future implications for many fields of healthcare including pathology. The hyperspectral tissue data generated from mid-IR microscopy combined with patient information is a perfect match for AI technology. Together, this approach is generating novel research data and a new class of label-free tissue diagnostics, ultimately accelerating the laboratory workflow and generating personalized data to benefit patients.

Contact us to find out how we can apply mid-IR imaging to your samples: [email protected]


  1. Bird, B., and Rowlette, J. (2017). High definition infrared chemical imaging of colorectal tissue using a Spero QCL microscope. Analyst. DOI: 10.1039/c6an01916a
  2. Sreedhar, H., Varma, V. K., Gambacorta, F. V., Guzman, G., and Walsh, M. J. (2016). Infrared spectroscopic imaging detects chemical modifications in liver fibrosis due to diabetes and disease. Biomedical Optics Express. DOI:10.1364/BOE.7.002419
  3. C. Kuepper, A. Kallenbach-Thieltges, H. Juette, A. Tannapfel, F. Großerueschkamp and K. Gerwert. (2018) Quantum Cascade Laser-Based Infrared Microscopy for Label-Free and Automated Cancer Classification in Tissue Sections. Nature Scientific Reports. DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-26098-w

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