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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida International: Receives Grant to Develop Automated Device to Support Assessment of DNA damage and Repair

Dr. Marcus S. Cooke, professor in Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, has been awarded $149,846 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to develop an automated device to support the assessment of DNA damage and repair.  Facilitating such measures will help advance our knowledge of the role of DNA damage in health and disease.

“The comet assay is a valuable means to assess DNA damage and repair. However, it is time-consuming, and labor intensive. To date, there are no devices available to automate the comet assay,” Dr. Cooke said. “We have already made a number of innovations to the comet assay and this work continues this trend. Not only does this project represent a means by which we will bring numerous benefits to the comet assay, but also will produce a prototype device with commercial potential.”

Genomic instability, induced by DNA damage, and partly mitigated by DNA repair and antioxidants, plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of many major human diseases, such as neurodegeneration, cancer and cardiovascular disease, together with aging.

There is a critical need for automated assays that can perform these assessments, and bring them into greater routine use, which will help advance our understanding of disease and its environmental causes.

By combining expertise in automated liquid handling and medical device engineering, with innovations in single cell gel electrophoresis (the comet assay), Dr. Cooke and his team look to create a device that is simple, rapid, with increased throughput, and affords increased precision. The innovation behind this device is protected by two U.S. and one UK patents granted to Cooke in 2018 and 2019.

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