Gene expression in cancer: the application of microarrays

Pascale F Macgregor
Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics 2003, 3 (2): 185-200
Genome-wide monitoring of gene expression using DNA microarrays represents one of the latest breakthroughs in experimental molecular biology and provides unprecedented opportunity to explore the biological processes underlying human diseases by providing a comprehensive survey of a cell's transcriptional landscape. In the cancer field, this revolutionary technology allows the simultaneous assessment of the transcription of tens of thousands of genes, and of their relative expression between normal cells and malignant cells. As microarray analysis emerges from its infancy, there is widespread hope that microarrays will significantly impact on our ability to explore the genetic changes associated with cancer etiology and development, and ultimately lead to the discovery of new biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis prediction, and of new therapeutic tools. This review provides an overview of microarray technology, specifically in the context of cancer research and describes some of its recent applications to the study of cancer. In addition, the challenges of translating microarray findings into molecular cancer diagnosis and prognosis tools, with the potential of altering clinical practice through individualized cancer care and ultimately of contributing to the battle against cancer, are discussed.

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