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What is the comet assay?

The comet assay, (also known as Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis - SCGE) is a method to determine the amount of DNA damage in a single cell. This assay is used for a wide range of applications, including DNA damage and repair studies, genetic toxicology testing, biomonitoring and nutritional research.

The comet assay is a versatile technique for detecting DNA damage within a single cell. This damage is usually single- or double-strand breaks. Single cells (both eukaryotic and prokaryotic) are suspended in agarose and the damaged DNA migrates from the cell nucleus when an electric field is applied. Visit the how does it work section for more information on the comet assay.


The comet assay can be applied within a range of research and diagnostic fields:

Genetic toxicology
for screening and regulatory testing of industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biocides & cosmetics.

Human biomonitoring

occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals, pollutants & radiation


monitoring contamination of the environment by genotoxic agents

Mechanistic studies

DNA damage & repair


harmful and beneficial effects of diet and dietary components


diagnosis of disease and monitoring effects of treatment.

Molecular epidemiology

assessing inter-individual differences in susceptibility to DNA damage and capacity to repair