Microarrays: Applications and the Future of Science

Microarrays: Applications and the Future of Science.

Microarrays are microscopic devices containing a large number of well-defined immobilized capture molecules. These can be either proteins/peptide/antibodies or oligonucleotides/PCR products assembled in an addressable format.

By adding biological samples to the slide, one can examine the capture rate of molecules at the addresses. Using detection methods, one can determine information from each address and thus the amount of captured molecules if any.

Microarray technology is dependent on the manufacture or purchase of microarrays. This has become a simple task since there has been an explosion of microarray products being sold at reasonable prices. Hybridization and detection equipment is now found in most hospitals and research institutes. Data analysis software has been freely available on the web for quite some time now. Considering the time and cost of employing people or doing the work yourself, conducting RT-PCR analysis experiments or western blotting several genes, one can easily see the appeal of using microarrays as you are conducting thousands of literal experiments simultaneously with minimal cell materials and minimal cost.

A disadvantage (or an advantage) of microarrays is the enormous amount of data that is generated. This has been addressed by gene ontology software and bioinformatics which now groups information or gene information into pathways such as metabolic and signalling pathways.

Applications of Microarrays include:

- gene expression profiling
- single nucleotide polymorphism SNP detection
- methylation expression analysis
- protein-protein interaction analysis
- DNA-protein interactions
- RNA-protein interactions

Limitations of Microarrays include:

- it is a relatively new technology
- little standardisation has been accomplished (difficult to compare microarray results)
- background problems
- poor reporducibility between investigators
- relatively expensive (?)
- still mostly manual procedure

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Copyright Molecular Station 2006

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