Standardized microarrays show promise

26 July 2005

Three new reports published in the latest edition of Nature Methods agree that the use of microarrays can yield more reproducible results than previous analyses have suggested, provided that standardized protocols and data processing are used. Microarrays are platforms that allow the simultaneous analysis of expression from thousands of genes, allowing researchers to identify patterns of gene expression that are associated with specific tissues and diseases. They are already being used in clinical trials for use in determining the prognosis and hence treatment options for breast cancer patients.

A study led by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) funded Toxicogenomics Research Consortium, comprising seven different centres, to assess the causes of variation between gene expression experiments and different microarray platforms has been running since 2001.These researchers report that using a standardized process led to more consistent results, and that using commercially manufactured microarrays made results more reproducible [Bammler T et al. (2004) Nat Methods 2, 351-356]. Dr Brenda Weis, one of the authors of the report, commented: "So far, gene expression data have been very useful in understanding diseases and biological processes