Unlocking the archive--gene expression in paraffin-embedded tissue

J Pathol. 2001 Sep;195(1):66-71. doi: 10.1002/1096-9896(200109)195:1<66::AID-PATH921>3.0.CO;2-F.


The histopathology archive represents a vast, well-characterized source of specimens covering virtually every disease and is available for molecular biological investigation. The archive has in recent years become widely used for molecular genetic analysis and DNA can be routinely extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. More recently, archival specimens have become a source of material for extensive analysis of mRNA expression utilizing DNA microarrays, real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and in situ hybridization and amplification techniques. These techniques will enable a greater understanding of the changes that occur in gene function during every stage of the development of disease and will lead to better diagnosis, better evaluation of prognosis, and better treatment through targeted therapeutic regimes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*
  • Paraffin Embedding*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA, Messenger