In this issue we take a close look at DNA microarrays, the current amore of biological and biomedical researchers. There's little reason to doubt that the infatuation will continue, at least for awhile.

Microarrays are relatively inexpensive, powerful tools for assessing gene expression. On glass or plastic slides, thousands of known DNA sequences are printed, spotted or synthesized. mRNA is isolated from samples, often converted to cDNA and amplified, before hybridization on the slides. The array is scanned to measure how much sample is bound to a particular region. Computer analysis generates gene expression profiles of samples, from which hypotheses are tested and conclusions drawn.

The first microarray experiment was described in 1995; in total, 100-150 other papers were published over the next four years (depending on the search criteria used). Since then, its popularity has mushroomed, with many hundreds of papers published each year since 2000.

That first experiment...

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