Microarray technology is often used in basic life science, pharmacology and medical research. Microarrays are commonly used to study cardiovascular, inflammatory, and infectious diseases. They also have practical applications as tools within the clinical realm, aiding in the diagnosis of diseases. The information derived from microarray analyses can in turn lead to more effective treatments. Using this technology on a patient’s blood sample, the expression level of thousands of genes can be analyzed within the space of a microarray grid.
Types of Microarrays and How They Work
The information from a microarray analysis is potentially vast, because a large amount of biological material can be analyzed in a single reaction. There are different types of microarrays depending on the kind of probe used. These include tissue, protein, DNA, and peptide microarrays. As an example, a peptide microarray consists of a collection of peptides affixed to a solid surface. Usually, this surface is made of glass and is about the same size and shape as a microscope slide.
A peptide is a compound consisting of at least two amino acids, which are linked by peptide bonds. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are products of genes. Each of the peptides immobilized on the microarray slide serves as a probe for whatever the target may be, such as an antibody in a patient’s serum.
Peptide microarrays can provide detailed analysis of protein-protein interactions as well as assisting in antibody diagnostics. They do this by screening proteomes. Proteomes encompass the entire set of proteins that can be expressed by an organism at any given time.
Powerful Tools for Diagnosis and Treatment
Because so much information can be gathered from microarray analysis, it serves as a valuable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. This powerful technology also continues to be used in the research of many disease states, and it is quite possible that new uses may be found for this technology into the future.