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Rapid analysis of DNA damage now possible
Date:5/3/2010

tedious. It requires at least one microscope slide for every experimental condition, which means that researchers need to juggle dozens of slides just to do a few experimental conditions. Additionally, the readout is entirely manual, meaning researchers have to spend hours staring into a microscope and selecting cells for analysis. The team's goal was to harness the strengths of the comet assay while overcoming its limitations in throughput and labor.

Using a micopatterning technique developed by Wood and Bhatia, the research team imprinted a grid of tiny wells the size of a single cell on a DNA electrophoresis gel. Cells in the array can be individually "addressed," which allows fully automated readout and replaces the tedious manual analysis. They also put their micoscopic cell array into a 96-well plate so that many cell types, drugs, or other conditions can be assayed simultaneously.

This setup allows dozens of experimental conditions to be tested on just one slide, and it enables slides to be automatically analyzed using custom-designed imaging software.

Next steps: The team is using knockout cell lines to determine which genetic deficiencies are detectable with their platform and to better understand the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair. They are also optimizing their system for human samples in order to study the DNA damaging effects of the environment. Ultimately, they hope that the CometChip will be commercialized and made available around the world. This technology was designed not only to enable high throughput screening, but also to be compatible with basic laboratory equipment so that virtually any laboratory can use it.


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Contact: Jennifer Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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