University of Chicago scientists have come out with a new method that would help in examining hundreds of proteins to enable a better understanding of cancer and other diseases.
The new micro-western arrays combine the specificity of the popular "Western blot" protein assay with the large scale of DNA microarrays.
It will help scientists examine a cell's intricate protein network in one experiment rather than peeking at one small piece at a time.
"The proteins are the actual machines that are doing everything in the cell, but nobody's been able to examine them in depth because it's been too complicated. Now, we can begin to do that with this new method," Nature quoted Richard B. Jones, senior author and assistant professor at and the University of Chicago's Ben May Department for Cancer Research and the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, as saying.
During the study, Jones and colleagues from Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at the behaviour of proteins in a cancer cell line with elevated amounts of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
"We started asking questions about what we could do that no one else could previously do," said Jones.
"We could actually reproducibly see 120 things at a time rather than looking at 1 or 2 or 5," he added.
The researchers found that activating EGFR simultaneously led to the activation of several other receptors in the cell.his discovery may help explain why some tumours become resistant to cancer therapies.
They research team hope that the new method can potentially be used clinically for more precise diagnoses of cancer and other diseases that can direct individualized treatment.
The study appears in journal Nature Methods.