Biochips are soon expected to revolutionize clinical diagnostics, massively parallel DNA analysis, and other laboratory procedures involving molecular biology. In recent years, high-density DNA micro arrays or biochips have revolutionized biomedical research and greatly accelerated target validation and drugs discovery efforts. The utility of micro array technology is that it permits highly parallel gene expression profiling; provide snapshots of the transcriptome in both healthy and diseased states.
Biochips can be used to identify and prioritize drug targets, based on their ability to confirm a massive number of gene expression measurements in parallel. Biochips have been utilized to address in vitro pharmacology and toxicology issues, and are being widely applied to improve the processes of disease diagnosis, pharmacogenomics and toxicogenomics. The biochips widely in use today, however, owe their existence to innovation in miniaturization in both the private and academic sectors.
Innovators in the development of this technology include Hyseq, Oxford Gene Technologies and Stanford University. The biological nature of biochips also raises the possibility of some exciting medical applications – they could be implanted in the body of interface with the living system. Some possibilities include: Brain implants to circumvent damage that has caused blindess and deafness. Cardiac implants to regulate heart beat, Blood implants to regulate drug discovery (e. g. insulin for diabetics) and implants to control artificial limbs
The fabrication of complex three dimensional biochips with the fabrication technology now used in the electronics industry is probably impossible. An essential feature of the use of a protein matrix is that the proteins directly their own assembly and the appropriate positioning of the semiconductor molecules. These are numerous examples of self assembling protein structures, including virus particles and these are being studied intensely for potential applications to biochip technology. Biochips will not be possible without computer designed proteins and rDNA technology.
Yet it will probably be several years before rDNA technology will be able to contribute substantially to biochips research, because it is first necessary to understand more about the relationship between protein structure and function, the biological self-assembly processes, and the mechanisms by which molecules could do logic functions and store memory. Future The boundaries of technology will be continually challenged as this technology progresses, and novel applications are devised. In addition to the evolving technical approaches of DNA micro array systems, new applications for microarrays are being developed.
Recent progress in combining the use of chromatin (ChIP) arrays with DNA microarrays has allowed genomewide analysis of transcription factor localization to specific regulatory sequences in living cells. Biotechnology is usually among most technologies in that it spans an array of scientific disciplines. Individuals seeking to be well versed in applications of biotechnology must have inter-disciplines training. Bioprocess engineers, for example need some knowledge of biochemistry and microbiology as well as knowledge of engineering design so that the most efficient combination of micro-organism and bioreactor can be determined.
Many industrial sectors are applying biochip technology. The sectors include are pharmaceuticals, agriculture, specialty chemical and food additives, environmental applications, commodity chemicals and energy and bioelectronics. References Commercial biotechnology: An International Analysis, 1985, Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress. Office of Technology Assessment, United States, Congress Biochips: Technology and Applications, 2003, Wan-Li Xing, Jing Cheng