Scientific objectives and approach:
The objective of this project is to develop an automated sensor that enables a quick, on-site assessment of genotoxicity to overcome the drawbacks of the current "comet assay". It will be based on the single cell gel (SCG) electrophoresis method, that is the so-called "comet assay", which is the best current technique for genotoxicity assessment.
The innovation of this development is based on completely new equipment composed of:
- The "multi-chamber wells" that is new tool enabling the on-site collection of samples and preventing the manipulation of probes during the test
- An "automated carrier" that will support the multi-chamber wells and moves it under the microscope
- A powerful software controlling the tray of the wells and interface to existing analysis software that will also be developed in the project.
This development will enable the measure of up to 200-400 probes per day, instead of assessing 12-24 probes/1,5 day with the best current technique.
Problems to be solved:
Determination of the genotoxic potential of man-made chemicals (i.e. effluents, biozides, and chemicals accidentally released into the environment) is a subject of investigation all over the world. Methods measuring genotoxicity are time and cost consuming and need well-equipped cell culture laboratories as well as technical / scientific staff with experience in cell culture techniques.
During the last 10 years, the comet assay (also named single cell gel electrophoresis assay (SCGE)) has been developed to a very sensitive assay for testing genotoxic properties of chemical and physical toxicants in mammalian cells.
The disadvantages of the comet assay, as it is the case in all other modern genotoxicity tests lies in the small number of samples, which can be examined within one day. Highly specialized staff and a well-equipped cell culture laboratory are necessary to perform the assay.
The impacts are:
- increase of the number of samples/person and day
- Reduction of required measuring time by 75% compared to existing methods (approximately 1 hour for 25 probes, instead of 12 probes a day)
- Reduction of measuring costs by 50% compared to existing laboratory methods (automation of the sensor, then no need of high skilled trained personal in small companies to perform the test)
- simplification of the procedure
- enabling non-specialists to perform the assay
- cell culture laboratory not necessary
- greater competitiveness and profitability for the procedure of chemicals, biozides, effluents, by better control of genotoxicity.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
4450 333 Matosinhos