Visualization and measurement of drugs themselves as well as biological responses to those drugs are crucial in pharmacological research. To this end, various fluorescent dyes and proteins have been developed. Despite such progresses, there still remains technical difficulties to overcome in bioimaging that keep many pharmacological targets and phenomena invisible. Outside the fields of biology where fluorescence and luminescence prevail, variety of other optical phenomena are well known and utilized. These optical phenomena can shed unique lights on biological phenomena based on their specific physical and chemical properties. Although applications of these optical phenomena to biology are yet to be explored, they have high potentials in realizing visualization and measurement of currently invisible targets and phenomena, and thereby bringing new insights into pharmacological research. Thus, here I will introduce Raman scattering microscopy that visualize vibration of functional groups as an alternative imaging platform to fluorescence and luminescence. Special focus will be put on two recent technical advancements; namely, nonlinear Raman scattering microscopy that utilizes multi-photon effect of highly tissue penetrating near-infrared lights, and Raman-tag that realizes tagging of targets that could not have been labeled, combination of which is expected to pave a way toward imaging previously invisible targets in pharmacology.
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