A novel invention developed by a scientist from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) could revolutionize biological and clinical research and may lead to treatments for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and genetic and infectious diseases.
Since the discovery of DNA, biologists have worked to unlock the secrets of the human cell. Scientist Claude E. Gagna, Ph.D., an associate professor at NYIT's School of Health Professions, Behavioral and Life Sciences, discovered how to immobilize intact double-stranded (ds-), multi-stranded or alternative DNA and RNA on one microarray. This immobilization allows scientists to duplicate the environment of a cell, and study, examine and experiment with human, bacterial and viral genes. This invention provides the methodology to analyze more than 150,000 non-denatured genes.
"This patent represents a leap forward from conventional DNA microarrays that use hybridization," says Gagna, a molecular biologist-pathologist who performs research in the structure-function of DNA in normal and diseased cells. "This will help pharmaceutical companies produce new classes of drugs that target genes, with fewer side effects," he adds. "It will lower the cost and increase the speed of drug discovery, saving millions of dollars."
The "Gagna/NYIT Multi-Stranded and Alternative DNA, RNA and Plasmid Microarray," has been patented (#6,936,461) in the United States and is pending in Europe and Asia. Gagna's discovery will help scientists understand how transitions in DNA structure regulate gene expression (B-DNA to Z-DNA), and how DNA-protein, and DNA-drug interactions regulate genes. The breakthrough can aid in genetic screening, clinical diagnosis, forensics, DNA synthesis-sequencing and biodefense.
In the near future, practical applications of the patent will include enabling researchers to directly target and inhibit mutated genes and/or proteins that are responsible for pathologies, making it easier to treat or even cure disease. A discussion of the patent and two new applications -- known as transitional structural chemogenomics and transitional structural chemoproteomics -- was published in the May 2006 issue of Medical Hypotheses (67:1099-1114).
Additionally, Gagna has developed a novel surface that increases the adherence of the DNA to the microarray so that any type of nucleic acid can be anchored. Unlike conventional microarrays, which immobilize single-stranded DNA, scientists will now be able to "secure intact, non-denatured, unaltered ds-DNA, triplex-, quadruplex-, or pentaplex DNA onto the microarray," says Gagna. "With this technology, one day we will have tailor-made molecular medicine for patients."
Invented in 1991, DNA microarrays have become one of the most powerful research tools. Scientists are able to perform thousands of experiments with incredible accuracy and speed. According to MarketResearch.com, by 2009, sales of DNA microarrays are projected to be more than $5.3 billion a year.
Gagna, a resident of Palisades Park, N.J., performs research in his lab at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of NYIT. He is an adjunct assistant professor at the New Jersey Medical School: Department's of Pathology and Medicine. Gagna earned a Doctor of Philosophy in anatomy and biochemistry from New York University (NYU), Basic Medical Sciences. He completed his postdoctoral work at NYU and at New Jersey Medical School, researching DNA. Gagna received a Master of Science in anatomy from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from St. Peters College.