A sensitive and accurate identification of specific DNA fragments (usually containing a mutation) can influence clinical decisions. Standard methods routinely used for this type of detection are PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction, and its modifications), and, less commonly, NGS (Next Generation Sequencing). However, these methods are quite complicated, requiring time-consuming, multi-stage sample preparation, and specially trained staff. Usually, it takes weeks for patients to obtain their results. Therefore, different DNA sensors are being intensively developed by many groups. One technique often used to obtain an analytical signal from DNA sensors is Raman spectroscopy. Its modification, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), is especially useful for practical analytical applications due to its extra low limit of detection. SERS takes advantage of the strong increase in the efficiency of Raman signal generation caused by a local electric field enhancement near plasmonic (typically gold and silver) nanostructures. In this condensed review, we describe the most important types of SERS-based nanosensors for genetic studies and comment on their potential for becoming diagnostic tools.
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