DNA microarrays are plagued with inconsistent quantifications and false-positive results. Using established mechanisms of surface reactions, we argue that these problems are inherent to the current technology. In particular, the problem of multiplex non-equilibrium reactions cannot be resolved within the framework of the existing paradigm. We discuss the advantages and limitations of changing the paradigm to real-time data acquisition similar to real-time PCR methodology. Our analysis suggests that the fundamental problem of multiplex reactions is not resolved by the real-time approach itself. However, by introducing new detection chemistries and analysis approaches, it is possible to extract target-specific quantitative information from real-time microarray data. The possible scope of applications for real-time microarrays is discussed.

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