Protein biochip market poised to grow

The market for protein biochips - glass chips covered in proteins used in drug discovery and to test interactions between...

The market for protein biochips - glass chips covered in proteins used in drug discovery and to test interactions between proteins - is set to grow to 10 times its size by 2006, according to market research firm BioInsights.

Last year, the protein biochips market was worth about $76m (£53m), according to Steven Bodovitz, an analyst at BioInsight.

The market is predicted to be worth $700 million (£490m) by 2006.

Protein biochips are, essentially, microscope slides with immobilised protein layers applied to them. Bodovitz said that at present there is no standard method by which antibodies are generated or applied to the chips.

There are two kinds of protein biochips: capture chips and interaction chips. Capture chips consist of an immobilised layer of capture agents, often antibodies, that are then mixed with the protein or tissue sample that is being tested in an attempt to bind the two, he said. The biochip can then be measured to see if the proteins bound together and to examine the quality of those interactions.

The second kind of biochip, an interaction chip, is largely the same, though it uses an initial mobilised base of small sequences of proteins or peptides to test for interactions between proteins, he said.

Drug and biotech companies are the most likely targets as they look to speed up and make more efficient the testing of new drugs, cutting out some early and lengthy animal and human testing phases, Bodovitz said. These companies will also save costs by using the technology.

Bodovitz said the growth of the market in the next five years could lead to more and better drugs getting to consumers faster within the next decade.

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