Diagnosis on a chip - molecular profiling that could improve diagnosis and help design better drugs

A new method for identifying specific proteins in blood or tissue samples could some day be used by doctors to help diagnose diseases and develop better drugs. The technique builds up a molecular portrait of the sample that researchers hope will allow them to pinpoint the specific constellation of proteins that indicate a particular illness or disease. Creating a portrait of the pattern of proteins in a sample may prove to be an even more reliable indicator of specific conditions than the expression of genes, and the results reported in this new study suggest that scientists will soon be able to monitor these patters routinely.

The technique uses newly developed protein microarrays tiny chips that allow hundreds to thousands of proteins to be detected and measured at once to sort out and measure the concentrations of specific proteins and antibodies in complex solutions such as blood samples. In an article posted in advance of publication in GenomeBiologys preprint depository, the research team developing the protein microarrays have so far been able to detect specific proteins in concentrations of less than one part per billion in less than a millionth of an ounce of complex protein mixture similar to blood serum. This suggests that the technique could ultimately be used in clinical as well as research applications.

The detailed, quantitative global characterization of the protein components in biological specimens is a fundamental problem in biology and clinical medicine, says Patrick O. Brown, one of the articles authors, This work suggests a practical approach to solving this problem. We are submitting this work to GenomeBiology rather than a more established journal because we are enthusiastic supporters of the journals commitment to providing immediate, free and unrestricted access to the primary research reports that it publishes.

The protein microarray technique involves using a robotic device to print hundreds of specific antib

Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
BioMed Central

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