Vibrational microscopy and imaging are used around the world to address important biomedical and pharmacological issues, including the diagnosis of pathological states. A major advantage of these technologies, not as widely utilized to date, is the availability of direct molecular structure information inherent in both IR and Raman spectroscopy.
The current presentation will illustrate applications of vibrational microscopy and imaging to diverse areas of skin science. Following an introduction to the technology, recent applications of these approaches from our laboratory will be discussed as time permits, and will be selected from the following:
1) Spectra-structure correlations established for small chain molecules are used to evaluate an orthorhombic → hexagonal packing transition in human stratum corneum as well as to monitor the kinetics of skin barrier reformation following thermal perturbation.
2) Pro-drugs are used to enhance the delivery of therapeutic agents into skin, where they are undergo enzymatic hydrolysis and converted to the active form of the drug. We have demonstrated the feasibility of tracking and spatially imaging (see Figure), via confocal Raman microscopy, the prodrug-to-drug interconversion for a derivative of 5-fluorouracil, a well-known anti-cancer agent.
3) Proper wound healing entails a complex series of events. Preliminary vibrational microscopic imaging measurements provide evidence for the temporal expression and spatial location of a variety of collagen and keratin species that appear during the healing process. Our goal is to correlate the phenotypes we observe with the particular sequence of activated genes that characterize the healing. In a unique finding of the technology, we recently have observed that the lipids participating in the re-epithelialization process are conformationally substantially disordered.