Toxicity test technology hits the market

Posted by ap507 at Oct 03, 2014 09:50 AM |
University of Leicester develops technique for high throughput screening of substances that could cause DNA damage

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 3 October

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  • New technology launches to the market
  • It allows for testing of drugs and cosmetics that could pose a risk to human health
  • Damage to DNA is assessed by technique
  • It provides a way of reducing reliance on animal testing
  • Leicester technique in association with Cleaver Scientific Ltd provides a high throughput method of assessing samples

Technology developed by the University of Leicester to test drugs and cosmetics for the damage they do to our DNA has been launched commercially today (Friday 3 October).

The University has teamed up with Cleaver Scientific Ltd., a specialist UK-based manufacturer, for the development and commercialisation of high throughput systems for performing the Comet Assay.

The Comet Assay, also known as single cell gel electrophoresis, is a sensitive and reliable technique for the detection of DNA damage in individual cells. The test is increasingly used as a method of assessing substances – including drugs and cosmetics – that could pose a potential risk to human or environmental health by causing damage to DNA. In recent years, it has also gained recognition by regulators as a way of reducing reliance on animal testing.

As demand for comet screening has increased, sample throughput has become a limiting factor.

Researchers from the University of Leicester’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, in collaboration with Cleaver Scientific Ltd., have developed a novel, high throughput method of performing the assay which is set to overcome this problem and to push down the costs of processing large numbers of samples.

Dr Marcus Cooke, lead inventor of the new process, said: “Like many other labs, we use the Comet Assay routinely in our research, but we have always been frustrated by the current 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.”

Adrian Cleaver, Managing Director of Cleaver Scientific Ltd., said: “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. We have since worked with Dr Cooke and Dr Mahsa Karbaschi from his team to develop a range of compact, bench-top systems and we are launching the first of these – the COMPAC-50 – today.”

For more information on the COMPAC-50 please visit:

Dr James Lapworth, Senior Licensing & Commercialisation Manager at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a great example of a new and innovative product arising from the pursuit of fundamental research. Partnering early with Cleaver 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.”

*Dr Marcus Cooke is now at Florida International University but developed the technique at the University of Leicester.


Notes to editors:

Contact details:

Dr Marcus Cooke, former Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester, now Professor at Florida International University


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