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Applications of CometChip for Environmental Health Studies

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posted on 10.06.2020, 13:38 by Christy Chao, Bevin P. Engelward
Environmental exposures have long been known to impact public health and safety. For example, exposures to airborne particulates, heavy metals in water, or certain industrial chemicals can contribute to aging and to risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Environmental factors can impact health in a variety of ways, but a key concern is DNA damage, which can lead to mutations that cause cancer. Cancer can take years to develop following chemical exposure; however, one way to predict carcinogenicity in a more practical time frame is by studying the chemical’s ability to induce DNA damage. The comet assay (or single-cell gel electrophoresis assay) has been used successfully for genotoxicity testing. The comet assay allows for the detection of DNA strand breaks via analysis of DNA migration during electrophoresis. Previously, the Engelward laboratory, in collaboration with the Bhatia laboratory, developed the CometChip for measurements of DNA damage and repair. The CometChip is a high-throughput comet assay that improves user reproducibility and significantly shortens total assay time. Here, we describe how the high-throughput CometChip platform can be used to measure DNA damage in established cell lines, animal models, and human samples. We also discuss technical challenges associated with these studies and provide recommendations on how to achieve optimal results for researchers interested in adopting this assay.

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