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Next generation DNA microarray to aid drug discovery

By Dr Matt Wilkinson, 16-Feb-2007

Related topics: Processing

The new 'whole' DNA microarray promises to lower the cost and increase the speed of drug discovery processes.

The invention allows the immobilisation of intact. double-stranded, multi-stranded or alternative DNA or RNA and has the potential to revolutionise biological and clinical research by allowing scientists to duplicate the cell environment and experiment with human, bacterial and viral genes.

Researchers will be able to directly target and inhibit mutated genes and proteins that are responsible for causing various disease states. potentially leading to treatments for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other genetic and infectious disorders and opening the door for tailor-made medicines for patients.

The work has just been patented in the US and is patent pending in Europe and Asia.

"This patent represents a leap forward from conventional DNA microarrays that use hybridisation," said Dr Gagna, associate professor of the New York Institute of Technology.

"This will help pharmaceutical companies produce new classes of drugs that target genes, with fewer side effects," Dr Gagna continued.

"It will lower the cost and increase the speed of drug discovery, saving millions of dollars."

Since the invention of the DNA microarray in 1991, the technology has become one of the most powerful research tools for drug discovery research allowing scientist to perform thousands of experiments with incredible accuracy and speed. According to MarketResearch.com sales of DNA microarrays are expected to be higher than $5.3bn (€ bn) by 2009.

The technology hinges around a novel surface that increases the adherence of DNA to the microarray so that any type of nucleic acid can be anchored, unlike conventional arrays that allow only single-stranded DNA to be immobilised.

"With this technology, one day we will have tailor-made molecular medicine for patients," said Dr Gagna.

The technology and its use in two new applications (transitional structural chemogenomics and transitional structural chemoproteomics) is discussed in the May 2006 issue of 'Medical Hypothesis', published by Elsevier.

Dr Gagna, states that he believes "that it is not sufficient to develop chemical probes targeted towards specific base pairs of nucleic acids and generalised proteins."

"Chemical probes need to be developed that target specific helical changes in the structures of single stranded and double stranded DNA and RNA alternative DNA and RNA molecules and other multiple-stranded nucleic acids, and proteins during different stages of modifications."

Gagna estimates that the new approaches should optimise the drug discovery process from 12 to 15 years currently to about 6 to 12 years, and will revolutionise the way researchers try to find cures for cancer, AIDS, viral infections, cardiovascular, Alzheimer's and autoimmune diseases.