Multifractal analysis of cellular ATR-FTIR spectrum as a method for identifying and quantifying cancer cell metastatic levels

Ayan Barbora, Sirish Karri, Michael A. Firer, Refael Minnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cancer is a leading cause of mortality today. Sooner a cancer is detected, the more effective is the treatment. Histopathological diagnosis continues to be the gold standard worldwide for cancer diagnosis, but the methods used are invasive, time-consuming, insensitive, and still rely to some degree on the subjective judgment of pathologists. Recent research demonstrated that Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy can be used to determine the metastatic potential of cancer cells by evaluating their membrane hydration. In the current study, we demonstrate that the conversion of ATR-FTIR spectra using multifractal transformation generates a unique number for each cell line’s metastatic potential. Applying this technique to murine and human cancer cells revealed a correlation between the metastatic capacity of cancer cells within the same lineage and higher multifractal value. The multifractal spectrum value was found to be independent of the cell concentration used in the assay and unique to the tested lineage. Healthy cells exhibited a smaller multifractal spectrum value than cancer cells. Further, the technique demonstrated the ability to detect cancer progression by being sensitive to the proportional change between healthy and cancerous cells in the sample. This enables precise determination of cancer metastasis and disease progression independent of cell concentration by comparing the measured spectroscopy derived multifractal spectrum value. This quick and simple technique devoid of observer bias can transform cancer diagnosis to a great extent improving public health prognosis worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18935
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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