According to a recent report, the emerging market for protein microarrays will experience strong growth buoyed on by the emergence of the technology's ability to detect protein expression more quickly and easily than traditional approaches such as 2D gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry.
"By allowing scientists to look at multiple protein interactions simultaneously, the seemingly insurmountable challenge of characterising an organism's entire collection of proteins - the proteome - is within reach," said Tamara Zemlo, director of Syndicated Research and Analysis.
"There is tremendous excitement about the potential of protein arrays to further our understanding about protein expression, function and structure on a microscopically global level," he added.
Protein microarrays have a big potential to increase the throughput of proteomic research. Microarrays of antibodies can simultaneously measure the concentration of a multitude of target proteins in a very short period of time.
The ability of protein microarrays to increase the quantity of data points in small biological samples on the protein level will have a major impact on basic biological research as well as on the discovery of new drug targets and diagnostic markers.
The survey, carried out by the market research and consulting firm, BioInformatics, LLC, revealed that that while 34 per cent of respondents currently use protein microarrays, 48 per cent plan to use them in the future.
Initial microarray technologies had suffered from unreliability and as protein arrays have become increasingly consistent and reliable, more scientists have naturally begun to incorporate them into their experiments.
Researchers revealed that scientists who intend to utilise protein microarrays, 69 per cent plan to do so within the next 12 months.
This group of researchers also generally expects to use protein arrays with a greater density than current users, 68 per cent of respondents now using protein microarrays focus on subsets of proteins, usually fewer than 100 per array.
However, only 54 per cent of future users intend to utilise arrays with fewer than 100 proteins printed on them.
Clontech - a subsidiary of Takara Bio and Invitrogen are the top suppliers of protein microarrays. However, slightly less than half of all arrays used are from pre-printed commercial sources.
The remainder are self-printed, printed in a core lab or printed in a collaborator's lab.
Respondents cited convenience as the primary factor that influenced their decisions of the type of array to use, while availability was also an important factor.
"Interestingly, price does not seem to be a major factor in people's decisions," said Zemlo.
"However, in deciding between two arrays that performed identically, one third of respondents indicated that they would use price to decide."
This seems to indicate that while convenience and availability are ranked as more important than price, researchers are not completely price insensitive.
Respondents indicated that the most desired future improvement to protein arrays would be demonstrating proof of concept for new applications.
The creation of whole-proteome arrays and arraying functional membrane proteins were considered highly desirable as well.
BioInformatics' publication of its latest report "Protein Microarrays: Technology Adoption & Utilisation," is now available to purchase.