Scientists develop upgrade of Comet screening

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Scientists develop upgrade of Comet screening

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Scientists at the University of Leicester have developed a technique for screening substances that could cause DNA damage. 

In a collaboration with UK based manufacturer Cleaver Scientific., researchers from the University of Leicester’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine have developed a high throughput method of testing of drugs and cosmetics that could pose a risk to human health.

The technique​ is set to push down the costs of processing large numbers of samples and is an upgrade of the Comet Assay process that various research labs already use.

The Assay, also known as single cell gel electrophoresis, is a sensitive and reliable technique for the detection of DNA damage in individual cells and is increasingly used as a method of assessing substances – including drugs and cosmetics. 

In recent years, it has also gained recognition by regulators as a way of reducing reliance on animal testing. 

According to lead scientist Dr Marcus Cooke, as demand for comet screening increased, sample throughput became a limiting factor.

"We have been frustrated by the current Comet Assay process, which is laborious and time consuming. Our new electrophoresis method allows us to increase the number of test samples on a given run by up to ten-fold and to complete the assay in less than half the time of the traditional comet process,”​ Dr Cooke explains.

Prototype is now ready to go 

Since the discovery, the team has worked to develop a range of compact, bench-top systems with Cleaver Scientific. 

Dr. Cooke explains partnering early has allowed us to move from a simple prototype to a market-ready product in just a few months.

"We are now excited to see the impact that this new approach will have on the important field of DNA damage and toxicology testing,​” he says.

“Cleaver Scientific is known for being a market leader in innovative electrophoresis equipment, so we were delighted when Leicester approached us with this new method to improve the Comet Assay," adds Adrian Cleaver, Managing Director.

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