Microarrays have expanded far beyond their early use as simple gene-expression profiling tools and now have applications that span the genomic gamut.
High-throughput microarray technologies have long been a source of data for a wide range of biomedical investigations. Over the decades, variants have been developed and sophistication of measurements has improved, with generated data providing both valuable insight and considerable analytical challenge.
The cost-effectiveness of microarrays, as well as their fundamental applicability, made them a first choice for much early genomic research and efforts to improve accessibility, quality, and interpretation have continued unabated.
With the rapid evolution of next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, the cost of sequencing a human genome has plummeted, and genomics has started to pervade healthcare across all stages of life, from preconception to adult medicine. Microarray technologies have been in the forefront of managing large amounts of genomic data over an extended period and have evolved with need.Technological advancements in the areas of next-generation sequencing (NGS), liquid biopsies, and cell-based assays, such as multicolor flow cytometry, have resulted in a boom of commercial assays, ranging from NGS and microarrays to immunoassays and cytokines.
The microarray systems market is witnessing an era of unprecedented growth with the increasing adoption of microarray technologies in the medical field through transcriptome studies, as well as in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. The progressively evolving information and software technology and emerging bioinformatics are some factors driving the microarray systems market, making it economical, unfailing, and durable.
Recent advances in microarray-based technologies allow for large-scale gene expression analysis in a single experiment, which have been applied to genome-wide assays, mutational analysis, drug discovery, developmental biology, and molecular analysis of various diseases.
Biomarkers are deemed to be potential tools inearly diagnosis, therapeutic monitoring, and prognosis evaluation forcancer, with simplicity as well as economic advantages compared with computed tomography and biopsy. As one of the most exciting emerging technologies, protein array provides a versatile and robust platform in cancer proteomics research as it shows tremendous advantages of miniaturized features, high throughput, and sensitive detections in the last decade.
Protein arrays and biomarker discovery. Protein microarrays have gained traction in the last few years with the potential to serve as tools for the detection of a broad range of analytes in numerous applications such as diagnostics, drug development, food safety, and environmental monitoring. Analytical protein microarrays offer high throughput and relatively low costs due to minimal reagent consumption, multiplexing, faster kinetics and hence measurements, and the possibility of functional integration. The protein array-based approaches are capable of analyzing a wide variety of biochemical properties of the protein entities. Fabricated by arraying with hundreds to thousands of individually-purified proteins at extremely high density on a solid surface, the protein array technology allows for simultaneous investigations of hundreds and thousands of targets in a single experiment. As a powerful technology platform, it would not be surprising if protein microarrays will become one of the leading technologies in proteomic and diagnostic fields in the next decade.
Microarrays in cytogenetics. DNA microarrays have the capability to study almost entire human genome on a single chip. As the physics of the solid surface on which these arrays are arranged progressed, the microarray industry witnessed a parallel evolution in the ability to design probes that can give an insight about the genomic structure and organization. The field of DNA microarrays is evolving at a phenomenal pace. Breakthrough advancements in array technologies have allowed their applicability to interrogate human genome with increasingly higher resolution. Many new discoveries and unrevealed facts associated with genome level changes have been unveiled due to the advancements in DNA microarrays and the increased clinical adoption of these technologies over the conventional molecular cytogenetic techniques.
The field of cytogenetics has undergone a transformation in the ability to interrogate the genome with unprecedented resolution. The evolution of microarrays for cytogenetic applications has brought in several variants depending on evolution of their manufacturing technology as well as the applications. Since microarrays have been a necessary tool in clinical settings, the leading market players have come up with microarrays that can be used for diagnostics.
As with conventional and molecular cytogenetic studies, chromosome abnormalities of unclear clinical significance are sometimes uncovered by microarray analysis. Microarray platforms exhibit a high limit of detection and resolution to identify clinically relevant genomic aberrations possibility to fully replace the use of the current FISH panel by microarray-based profiling in majority of diseases.
As the industry progresses toward establishing the idea of personalized medicine and making it a reality in the clinic, there is a need to assess the ability to study genome and associated variations. Making microarrays cost efficient by developing the related software and robotics technology can make it more reliable in any field. Enhancing reproducibility and reliability of the data accessed can also boost the applications of the microarray.
Combining DNA microarray with proteomics can help in understanding the way in which pathogens react in the microenvironment. Detailed study of these reactions can help in the identification of bacterial virulence factors, and aid in the design of new vaccines. The pace at which the technology is evolving, microarrays have the potential to create opportunities for scientists to discover drugs at a faster rate.
Further researches in this area can lead to the discovery of personalized medicines depending on the genetic buildup of patients. One of the most important goals for oncologists worldwide is to achieve early diagnosis and make accurate prognostic predictions. This would require a panel of biomarkers that, ideally, would be non-invasive and of high sensitivity and specificity. Protein-based array approaches are playing and will continue to play a dominant role in cancer biomarker identification.
One of the recent challenges is to bring microarrays from big central research facilities to the clinical routine lab or point-of-care, which can be only accomplished by a highly interdisciplinary research bringing together new materials, nanomaterials, production techniques, and up-to date read-out and microfluidics for truly integrated diagnostic systems.