Microarrays for Biomarker Discovery



November 18, 2013

It is clear that in many cases diagnostic, prognosis or prediction cannot be achieved with the measurement of a single biological parameter – i.e. biomarkers need to be comprised of several (often many) measured entities. Microarrays, being inherently multiplex devices, are particularly well suited for the ascertainment of complex patterns correlated to clinical information. DNA microarrays are an established approach for mutation detection and pathogen characterization (not really a biomarker study), but they have also been used for expression profiles providing diagnostic (Pathwork diagnostics “TOO”, tumor of origin determination), as well as prognostic and predictive information (Agendia “Mammaprint”, breast cancer). Initial enthusiasm about this approach was dampened by the realisation of serious statistical issues in initial data analysis as well as by the requirement for fresh-frozen samples, but these hurdles have now been largely removed. Protein and peptide microarrays are a more recent entrance in this contest. Beyond “simple” determination of specific antigens or antibodies in patient serum, complex patterns are finding clinical use. In particular, the capability to measure protein activity (not just protein amount) and even to assess drug sensitivity directly in patient samples in a multiplex fashion is opening new areas of application. Microarrays thus have a place in the field of biomarker discovery and ascertainment that will be resistant to competition from other approaches (e.g. NGS).

DiagnosticsDrug DiscoveryInformaticsMass Spectrometry

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