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An opinion on an intelligible comet assay descriptor

“To compile the information on the migration of thousands of comets into a single value that is meaningful to convey to other researchers, is difficult.” – Moller et al, 2014, On the search for an intelligible comet assay descriptor.

Recently, leading comet assay scientists have published an opinion article on the best way to interpret, report and compare comet assay data. In the opinion paper, the scientists revisit the search for a commonly accepted descriptor for DNA damage measured by the comet assay.  They define the “best” comet assay descriptor as a measurement that best describes the migration of DNA in each comet in the agarose, fits the distribution of comets in the gel, and conveys the technical measurement of comets as a descriptor that other researchers can understand.

The article is part of the Research Topic: 30 years of the Comet Assay: an overview with some new insights.

The article discusses different descriptors, e.g. percentage of DNA in the tail (%T), tail length and tail moment (the product of %T and tail length), and also “tail inertia” or “tail profile” which never really caught on.

Then, the article moves on to discuss how these descriptors can be reported in different ways, i.e. as means, medians or as distribution patterns.

Finally, the article briefly reviews some studies which have addressed the issues of inter-laboratory variation in DNA damage by various methods.  The article suggests that the variation within each laboratory is relatively low and the major contribution to variation between laboratories is related to varying laboratory protocols.

Read the full article:
On the search for an intelligible comet assay descriptor
Peter Moller, Steffen Loft, Clara Ersson, Gudrun Koppen, Maria Dusinska and Andrew Collins
29 May 2014
Opinion Article, Frontiers in Genetics, Genomic Assay Technology, 30 years of the Comet Assay: an overview with some new insights.

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