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Implementing New and Old Technologies - A Dedicated Strategy in Developing a Microarray Technology

The Growth in the Scientific Need for New Substrates

The genomics market for DNA microarrays has blossomed over the last five to six years from an early pioneering stage to an advanced market dominated by several big organisations. Part of the genomics market has settled within a given set of instrumentation and substrate manufacture, but is still evolving. It is expected that a lot of pioneering centres and daily users have now developed knowledge and are willing to invest time in other types of substrates, knowing that the available materials have some limitations. For that reason it is likely that we will see a greater variety of different substrate suppliers and, after an additional period of time, a greater focus on ready-made solutions within drug discovery and diagnostics. Parallel to the blossoming of genomics is a growing interest and need for adapting microarray technology in proteomics. According to researchers at Front Line Strategic Management Consulting, the expected growth is from US$561 million in 2000 to US$2.77 billion by 2005. Knowing that single nucleotide polymorphisms analyses lack important information on protein-protein interactions, and because most drugs function on the protein level, a major scientific interest in this area can be expected, as well as a strong increase in protein binding interactions and orientations on surfaces.

Some Examples of New Substrates Using Existing Surface Technologies

When polymerase chain reaction technologies were emerging in the scientific community a new composite polymer for solid phase PCR analysis was developed. This material works as an activated polymer for the binding of oligonucleotides and cDNA. Oligonucleotides and cDNAs can be covalently bound using carbodimide chemistry, and cDNA can also be adsorbed using a traditional baking technology creating ionic/static forces. This polymer can withstand frequent regeneration steps. It has been shown that using this specific polymer it is possible to strip and re-use the bound nucleotides up to seven times with very little reduction of sensitivity. There are many advantages of using different polymers instead of traditional glass substrates. For example, you can physically treat the polymer in terms of ionic loading creating several species of free binding sites, thus increasing the amount of bound DNA (see Figure 1). You can also use wet chemistry when coating the polymer surface which makes it possible to influence the orientation of specific types of molecule. This first proteomic slide is already in use in an award winning breast cancer research project in the UK.


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By Thomas Vorre-Grшntved MSc, Business Development Manager, Pharma and Diagnostic Production, at Nunc A/S in Denmark

Thomas Vorre-Grшntved is Business Development Manager at Nunc A/S' headquarters in Denmark. He received his MSc in Molecular Biology and Palaeontology from Copenhagen University and Riksmuseet in Stockholm.

After that he worked at Wallac/PerkinElmer where he was responsible for the research division in Denmark. Thomas has worked for three years in marketing and business development at Nunc A/S, a biotech plastic production facility.

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