Date Published:2003 Apr
BACKGROUND: The Human Genome Project, or HGP, has inspired a great deal of exciting biology recently by enabling the development of new technologies that will be essential for understanding the different types of abnormalities in diseases related to the oral cavity. LITERATURE REVIEWED: The authors review current literature pertaining to the advanced microarray technologies arising from the HGP and how they can contribute to dentistry. This technology has become a standard tool for monitoring activities of genes at both academic and pharmaceutical research institutions. RESULTS: With the availability of the DNA sequences for the entire human genome, attention now is focused on understanding various diseases at the genome level. Deciphering the molecular behavior of genetically encoded proteins is crucial to obtaining a more comprehensive picture of disease processes. Important progress has been made using microarrays, which have been shown to be effective in identifying gene expression patterns and variations that correlate with cellular development, physiology and function. Arrays can be used to classify tissue samples accurately based on molecular profiles and to select candidate genes related to a number of cancers, including oral cancer. This type of oral genetic approach will aid in the understanding of disease progression, thus improving diagnosis and treatment for patients. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Microarrays hold much promise for the analysis of diseases in the oral cavity. As the technology evolves, dentists may see these tools as screening tests for better managing patients' dental care.