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Advanced molecular tools for array-based analyses of genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and cells

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Advanced array-based tools

Leading researchers across Europe recognised the need for developing advanced tools in order to study biological processes in health and disease. To this end, they created an infrastructure for establishing the next-generation toolbox for large-scale molecular analyses.

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Recent years have seen rapid growth of techniques for high-throughput analyses of genes, transcripts, proteins and cells using microarrays. Nonetheless, the information embodied in these molecules cannot be fully captured by existing methods. The key objective of the EU-funded ‘Advanced molecular tools for array-based analyses of genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and cells’ (Moltools) project was to bring in a wide range of expertise from some of Europe's leading groups in order to develop tools for research and diagnostic analyses of DNA, RNA, proteins and cells. Partners had pioneered and patented several of the major approaches used by DNA sequencing companies, and during the Moltools project other techniques were perfected for measuring and distinguishing gene sequences. Improvement of the specificity and sensitivity of amplification, detection and gene expression profiling protocols allowed certain nucleic acid technologies to be used in medical applications. More specifically, the TAcKLE RNA amplification and aPRIMES methylation detection methods were exploited in clinical breast cancer and medulloblastoma genetic studies, respectively. Moltools succeeded in measuring even single nucleic acid or protein molecules in individual cells as well as single molecules imaged on arrays. The detection of interacting proteins in patient samples was another major achievement of the project, alongside the identification of potential targets for drug therapy in cancer. The majority of Moltools-developed technologies have been commercialised and are available by leading biotechnology companies. They will not only benefit research in biotech and pharmaceutical industries but are expected to gradually extend to clinical medicine for guiding diagnosis and therapy.

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