The Workhorse of Genomic Medicine

Nowhere has Silicon Valley had a more direct impact on biology than in the invention of the miniature laboratory bench known as the DNA microarray. Microarrays detect active genes by exploiting the fact that when the two strands of a gene in the double-stranded DNA molecule are separated, each can readily pick its partner out of a crowd of similar molecules. In a typical microarray, thousands of single-stranded gene fragments are fastened to a platform--usually a silicon or glass wafer but sometimes a nylon sheet. The finished assemblage can be as small as a postage stamp. Its purpose is to answer,...

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