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Medical News & Perspectives
November 17, 1999

Lab-on-a-Chip Shows Promise in Defining and Diagnosing Cancers

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JAMA. 1999;282(19):1801-1802. doi:10.1001/jama.282.19.1801

Scottsdale, Ariz—A research team led by investigators from the Cambridge, Mass–based Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research has demonstrated for the first time that powerful new devices called DNA microarrays, paired with sophisticated computer software, can sniff out distinctive molecular differences between two identical-looking cancers.

The study, described here at a recent meeting organized by the publisher of Nature Genetics, is an early indication that researchers will be able to use microarrays (also called DNA chips) to develop a more refined way of classifying cancers based on their molecular profiles (JAMA. 1999;282:927-928). Currently, malignancies thought to be of the same type, based on conventional cytopathological methods, often have different clinical courses and may respond differently to the same treatment.

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