March 31, 2003
Emerging Microarray Technologies. From Genomics to Proteomics
With the human genome sequencing project complete, the drive to understand the human proteome gives even more promises in preventive medicine. If it is true that our genome is similar with that of a fruit fly, there should be something else explaining the differences. It is the way proteins function that provides the explanation and reaches the most intimate mechanism of disease onset. Available today information supports the expectation that proteomics will produce a thousand times more information than genomics.
Protein microarrays technologies have the potential to provide the fast growing proteomics market with invaluable information for cancer early diagnostics, disease biomarkers, drug discovery and validation, therapeutic development, and preclinical/clinical trials.
The proteomics industry today encompasses both tool (microarrays) providers and the company hoping to apply those tools to help with discoveries. There are currently about 25 companies mainly in U.S. and Europe providing with protein biochips for protein analysis in variety of biological fluids and tissues (for example, among the first in the protein chip market is www.ciphergen.com). While other companies like www.lumicyte.com focus primarily on developing bioinformatic platform, mining protein data and generating a biochip driven new knowledge and own database associated with a specific cancer disease information.
Developing easy to use protein microarrays and automated processing protocols holds the promise of finding rather faster novel early stage cancer diagnostics or help developing new drugs. Biochip platforms from programmable chips based on a surface acoustic wave (SAW) principle to other variety of sophisticated detection techniques like laser mass spectrometry are under very aggressive market advancement.
The competitive race to out-perform existing chromatographic techniques and serve better the ultimate public cause in fighting diseases is producing a breath-taking miniaturization and high throughput automatization which not only stimulates further the competitive innovation but can provide clinicians with upfront information how to treat patients.
Cancer: focus on early detection